Chicago Bears vs. Arizona Cardinals: Winners and Losers

Derek Piper@@FeelDaPaignCorrespondent IDecember 24, 2012

Chicago Bears vs. Arizona Cardinals: Winners and Losers

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    The Chicago Bears needed a victory to stay in the NFC playoff picture, and that's exactly what they got against an overmatched Arizona Cardinals team on Sunday.

    Thanks to a revival of their playmaking defense and good output from Brandon Marshall and Matt Forte, Chicago got what they needed to keep this season alive.

    The Bears had the game in hand from the moment Zach Bowman recovered Beanie Wells' fumble for a touchdown in the first quarter. From there, it was pretty smooth sailing as the Bears came away with a 28-13 victory.

Winner: Bears Defense

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    The Bears defense may be banged up, but they looked like the dominating unit that carried the team during the first half of the season. Granted, that's exactly what they should have looked like against the NFL's worst offense.

    The Bears were back to their ways of turning turnovers into points, including a fumble recovery for a touchdown by Bowman and a Charles Tillman pick-six. After scoring seven defensive touchdowns in their first eight games, Lovie Smith's defense failed to take one to the house in their previous six games.

    The secondary's ability to take it away, combined with the defensive line getting after the Cardinals' young quarterbacks (Julius Peppers with three sacks), made for a great day for a defense who had struggled to regain their midseason form.

Loser: Beanie Wells

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    It was a rough day in the desert for Wells, who was held to just three yards on four carries.

    Wells fumbled on the goal line in the first quarter after an awkward exchange with Ryan Lindley as the Bears picked it up for their first score of the day.

    It has been a nightmarish season for the Cardinals offense, and Sunday was no different. Wells' fumble gave the Bears the lead, and that was essentially the ballgame.

Winner: Brandon Marshall

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    Other than Calvin Johnson, no wide receiver in the league has had a better season than Marshall.

    Even with defenders draped all over him, Marshall has been able to use his size and physicality to haul in big receptions. The fact that defenses know where the ball is going and cannot stop it exemplifies how good Marshall has been this season.

    Patrick Peterson was Marshall's latest victim, as Cutler's favorite target had six receptions for 68 yards and a touchdown.

    No player on the Bears roster has been as valuable as Marshall in 2012—and it's not even close.

Loser: Arizona Quarterbacks

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    From the time Kurt Warner left town, Arizona has been unable to find anyone worthy of washing his jock strap, let alone filling his shoes.

    Despite having one of the premier receivers in football, the Cardinals are 29th in the NFL in passing yards. Ken Wisenhunt is trying everything to find the answer at quarterback, and after Sunday, he will still be looking.

    Between Lindley and Brain Hoyer, the Cardinals' signal-callers, combined for 28-of-49 passing for 219 yards and two interceptions.

    It's a quarterback-driven league these days, and the Cardinals quarterbacks are driving them into the ground.

Winner: Lovie Smith

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    Smith isn't getting much love around Chicago recently, but his team is still alive in the playoff hunt.

    The Bears looked dysfunctional in recent weeks, but finally showed up to play when they had to.

    They will still need a win and some help next week to make it to the postseason, but the fact that they are still alive should make Smith feel hopeful that he will have his parking pass at Halas Hall next season.

Loser: Jay Cutler

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    The Bears got the victory on Sunday—keeping their season alive—but it was not a good day for Cutler.

    With the talk of a possible extension this offseason, Cutler should be motivated to play his best football if he wants to be the Bears' quarterback of the future, but his performance was underwhelming to say the least.

    Cutler started the game 1-of-11 passing before finishing with a more respectable stat-line: 12-of-26, 146 yards, one touchdown and a 76.8 QB rating.

    This is the time when Cutler needs to be on top of his game, and for the most part, he was not on Sunday.