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New Bears questions for a new year

Chicago Bears quarterback Jay Cutler (6) is pursued by PhiladelphiEagles linebacker Moise Fokou (53) defensive tackle Mike Patters(98) second half

Chicago Bears quarterback Jay Cutler (6) is pursued by Philadelphia Eagles linebacker Moise Fokou (53) and defensive tackle Mike Patterson (98) in the second half of an NFL football game in Chicago, Sunday, Nov. 28, 2010. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)

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1.Q: With the odds that the Bears can get the No. 1 seed being relatively low, who would you rather play in an NFC Championship Game if the Bears win their divisional matchup, the Falcons or Saints? --- Neil Etinson

A: From the Bears point of view, the Saints are the more dangerous team. Drew Brees and the Saints are the defending Super Bowl champions and know what it takes to play deep into January. Besides, I also think Sean Payton can create problems for the Bears defense. Both these teams are capable of defeating or being defeated by the Bears. For my money, the Falcons present the more favorable matchup.

Q: What are the numbers for wins vs. losses when the Bears score first this season? --- Jocko

A: The Bears are 6-2 when they score first, 5-2 when their opponent scores first and an undefeated 5-0 when they lose the opening coin toss.

3.Q: One of the hottest topics during the draft and preseason was the safety position. I guess my question is: What do we know now that we didn’t know then? Along that line, has Danieal Manning quietly played himself into a nice new contract? -- MSBearsFan

A: We know that Chris Harris is what the Bears thought he would be, Danieal Manning is capable of being a solid starter and Major Wright has a future. That’s a lot, considering all the questions surrounding the position when the season began. As for Manning, I expect the Bears to re-sign him. He’s always been valuable because of his versatility and contributions on special teams, and he has made himself even more so with his development as a safety.

4.Q: For the first time in 15 years the Bears have a chance to have a quarterback throw for 3,000-plus yards, a wide receiver have 1,000 yards and a running back to have 1,000 yards. How many times has that happened in Chicago since 1920? --- Brando

A: It only happened once, in 1995, when Erik Kramer passed for 3, 838 yards and Rashaan Salaam ran for 1,074 while Curtis Conway (1,037) and Jeff Graham (1,301) had big seasons.

5.Q: Can you tell us a little more about Rashaun Greer? Is he talented enough to replace any of the present receivers in the relatively near future? On a different note, what offensive linemen available in the draft do you see as probable Bear picks? --- Paul Manter

A: Rashaun Greer was signed to the practice squad earlier this week. He was a rookie free-agent signed by Dallas out of Colorado State. The Bears may be looking at him for the future or he could be scout team fodder. As for offensive line prospects, it’s too early in the process for me to give you an educated answer. I did think it was interesting that a veteran scout whose sole job is evaluating offensive linemen told me that he thinks Frank Omiyale, Chris Williams and J’Marcus Webb can be long-term answers. That’s not to say the Bears won’t look for offensive line help in the draft. They should with Roberto Garza and Olin Kreutz nearing the end of their careers. But they may already have some building blocks.

6.Q: What is your reaction to the fact that a large contingent of so-called fans are actually disappointed with this season?

A: Bears fans aren’t disappointed that their team has locked up the No. 2 seed in the playoffs. A lot of people (myself included) underestimated this team, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t enjoying the team’s success. One blogger put it best: “I still don’t believe in this team but I’m sure having fun watching them prove me wrong!”

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