Falcons don't follow Bears' script for No. 1

GREEN BAY, Wis. -- Chicago's season-finale against the Packers officially became meaningless with the Atlanta Falcons' 31-10 victory over the Carolina Panthers. With the win, the Falcons locked up the No. 1 seed in the NFC playoffs.

The Panthers had to pull off the upset -- along with a loss by the Saints against the Buccaneers, who followed through with a 23-13 win in New Orleans -- for the Bears to gain the No. 1 seed.

It’s unclear whether the outcome of the game will affect how Chicago plans to deploy personnel against the Packers, but it’s established now that Bears will have the No. 2 seed.

The team placed receiver Earl Bennett and linebacker Pisa Tinoisamoa on the inactive list for Sunday’s game, but based on the other inactives, the Bears at least want to have their starters available for the contest. Bears coach Lovie Smith made it clear throughout the week that the plan is to play to win against the Packers.

But ultimately good health overshadows the desire for a victory at Lambeau Field, which would give the team the first sweep of the division since 1987.

We’ll see what happens.