The No. 1 reason for the Bears to dump Lovie Smith is he never changes, even when things don’t work. The Packers switched to a 3-4 defense this year and have gone from No. 20 in the NFL in defense to No. 2. Smith won’t change anything.

The No. 1 reason for the Bears to dump Lovie Smith is he never changes, even when things don’t work. The Packers switched to a 3-4 defense this year and have gone from No. 20 in the NFL in defense to No. 2. Smith won’t change anything. Kahlil Bell had Chicago’s longest run in 20 years two weeks ago, yet didn’t even get a single carry last week. Smith needs to try something. Anything.


Stat favors Vikings, Packers


The Super Bowl favorites might be the Vikings (10-1) and Packers (7-4). Coldhardfootballfacts.com introduced the defensive hog index in 2007. It ranks defenses from 1-32 on yards per rush, percentage of negative pass plays (sacks and interceptions) and third-down defense. The Vikings (4.0 average) and Packers (4.33) rate 1-2 after 11 weeks. The index is 20-2 as a predictor in playoff games and the No. 1-ranked team won the Super Bowl both years. That means the undefeated Saints (10th at 12.33) and Colts (22nd at 20.67) might be primed for early playoff exits.


New changes keep NIU bowling


NIU will earn its fourth bowl invitation in six years after going 38 years with just one bowl bid. Never again will the Huskies go 10-2 with wins over teams from the SEC (Alabama), ACC (Maryland) and Big 12 (Iowa State) and sit at home, as they did in 2003. Two recent changes have given every decent non-BCS team a virtual bowl guarantee: an expansion to 34 bowl games and a rule giving every 7-win team a berth before 6-win teams get seated. NIU (7-5) is one of only 59 teams with 7 wins available for those 68 bowl berths. Nine of the 14 teams with 6 wins will also get in.


New powers are old failures


The NFL has never looked more lopsided. The Colts and Saints make this the first NFL season with two 11-0 teams, and the Vikings are 10-1. There are also three 1-10 teams in the Bucs, Browns and Rams. But at least it’s a new lopsided. The six teams with at least eight wins this year have six NFL titles in the combined 254 years in their current cities. That includes an 0-for-180 by the Saints, Vikings, Bengals and Chargers, 1-for-25 by Indianapolis and 5-for-49 by the Cowboys, the weakest 2009 contender of the six.


Rockford Register Star assistant sports editor Matt Trowbridge’s Quick Shots on Sports appear Sundays. He can be reached at (815) 987-1383 or mtrowbridge@rrstar.com.