With the Bears officially eliminated from the playoff picture, Chicago's focus naturally turns to next season. Assuming that Matt Forte is a healthy, better-paid member of the team, will Marion Barber or Kahlil Bell be the back-up?
It's hard not to be high on Bell after he has stepped up since Forte's injury. In the last four games, his production has increased with every carry. It reached an apex with 159 yards all-purpose yards against the Packers on Sunday night. He showed an ability to work run patiently, burst through holes, and make catches to supplement the Bears' hobbled receiving corps. Lovie Smith is impressed.
"Based on what he's done his entire time here, you would feel comfortable (with Bell serving as the second tailback)," Smith said. "You know, with a lot of players you wonder, can they do it? You may be in the backup role but never played. But when you see a player in a backup role and he performs that way, you have to be excited about his future."