Lovie Smith

Lovie wants a bye.

The Chicago Bears have already wrapped up the NFC North title, but that won’t keep them from playing their starters in what may or may not be a meaningless game against the Green Bay Packers, on Sunday.

In all likelihood, the Bears will be playing for a first-round bye in the playoffs, unless the Minnesota Vikings somehow beat the Philadelphia Eagles on Tuesday night. If the Eagles lose, the Bears would clinch the No. 2 spot in the NFC and a bye.

If the Eagles win, as expected, the Bears will need a victory against Green Bay or a Philadelphia loss to Dallas in week 17 to maintain their hold on the No. 2 spot. A Bears’ loss coupled with two Philadelphia wins drops the Bears to No. 3 and another date with the Packers the following week.

“For us, we would like to get the bye,” Bears coach Lovie Smith said at his Monday news conference. “And that’s what we’re playing for. To have an opportunity to sweep our division, of course, is big for us. There’s a lot of things for us to play for.

“We realize that things could happen. We could have the bye before that. We’re not thinking that way. We feel like we have to beat the Packers to accomplish our regular season goals and that’s what we’re going to go to work to do.”

Smith has also made a big deal of beating the Packers. When he was hired as coach he famously stated his No. 1 priority was to beat Green Bay.

He’s done a fairly decent job of it, too.

Smith is 8-5 against the Packers, including a 4-2 mark at Lambeau Field.

So, don’t expect anything other than the Bears’ best effort come Sunday.

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