The Good-News Bears

Chicago returns to the play-offs powered by a roster of rookies, late bloomers and assorted unknowns

January usually signals two things in Chicago--the start of the long winter deep freeze, and time to clear out the lockers at Soldier Field, where it's been so long since the Bears have seen any postseason play that fans feared the team might go the way of the Jordanless Bulls or the hapless Cubs. But amid temperatures that have kept the city virtually snow-free this season, the Bears have postponed their hibernation to seize a spot in this month's NFC play-offs, finishing with their best record in a decade and transforming themselves from cellar dwellers into Super Bowl contenders.

The Bears...

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