The Bears don't know when to hibernate. Their fans don't, either.

Once again, the Bears are saying hello when it’s time to say goodbye.

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It was fun to see them crack the whip against the toothless Bengals. How bad are they?

But one of the flaws for me in the NFL these days is that as soon as the Bears start showing that they’re not playoff-worthy—and that moment has come early and often lately—I start thinking that true Bears believers should root for them to lose so they can improve their draft position and select players who give them a chance to, you know, be good.

This is one of the many pluses of college football. Believing that losing will pave the way for a brighter future is not an NCAA conundrum.

With the Bears packing a 3-9 record on their trip to Cincinnati to face the 5-7 Bengals, the cerebral Bears fan in me said, ``Just lose, baby.’’

A loss would have kept them right in the hunt with some other miserable NFL teams—including the equally proud and hapless 49ers and Giants—for a good draft slot.

Nobody’s going to catch winless Cleveland for the No. 1 draft pick, which is too bad. It's wasted on them; they never use it well. But the Bears were in the mix right behind the Browns.

And then they had to go spoil it by smacking the Bengals 33-7.

What’s the deal with Ohio? The Browns and Bengals are an embarrassment, while Ohio State and Toledo are kicking butt.

I would tell the NFL teams in the Buckeye State to throw money at Urban Meyer. (I’m sure That School Up North would contribute.) Problem is, Meyer is too smart to entertain a proposition like that.

Meanwhile, the Bears looked like a real football team in Cincinnati.

I don’t always watch the NFL. But when I do, I prefer the Bears.

And I watched Sunday with a group of Bears fans who helped temper my disappointment that they were screwing up their draft position.[membership level="0"] The rest of this article is available to subscribers only - to become a subscriber click here.[/membership] [membership]

Mitchell Trubisky, the rookie sensation from North Carolina, looked like a future Hall of Famer. He passed the Bears right down the field—which isn’t easy to do with the Bears’ receivers. He even scampered in for a touchdown himself.

``He’s not accurate passing from the pocket,’’ one of my fellow watchers explained. ``His strength is that he’s accurate throwing on the run.’’

The pocket, of course, is what’s supposed to matter on Sundays. But never mind. It’s a Bears-fan thing.

Tariq Cohen, the 5-6 running back, did some fine (and exciting!) running, although some of it was called back by illegal blocks.

Cohen, by the way, is from North Carolina A&T. Because the Bears get all of their studs from that football hotbed known as the Tarheel State.

We especially like him and defensive lineman Eddie Goldman because Bears fans of a certain religion take their bar-mitzvah boys where they can get them. Chicago, after all, is the city of Sid Luckman and Marshall Goldberg.

The Bears apparently didn’t use Cohen enough earlier in the season because they thought his lack of size outweighed his elusiveness.

Yeah, I know. What does it matter if he’s small, if they can’t catch him? Again, it’s a Bears-fan thing.

And the defense? Well, the Bears defense has been reasonably good all year. That’s a tribute to John Fox, the gravel-voiced coach whom everyone wants drop-kicked at season’s end. That’s a Bears-fan thing, too.

That’s the weird part about the NFL for me these days. How can the Bears, who were expected to be so lame, look so good in so many ways? How can a 4-9 team seem so close to being a 9-4 team?

That’s all smoke and mirrors, of course. Or is it?

The Bears’ win in Cincinnati, combined with shockers against the Ravens and Steelers, gives them a 3-0 record against the AFC North. They only need to beat the feeble Browns for a perfect record in those crossover games.

Too bad the Bears aren’t in the AFC North.

While I was silently rooting for the Bears to lose, because it’s all about the future, I gradually abandoned that thought. No. 1, it became apparent that Cincinnati was really not up to the task. And No. 2, I started seeing the game through the eyes of fellow Bears fans.

The wise sportswriter knows it’s better to lose and improve your draft status. The average Bears fan wants to see the Bears provide some Sunday-matinee entertainment, and honor the franchise’s long (but star-crossed) heritage. And worry about the draft later.

I don’t agree with the Bears and Bears fans about doing all of this draft-dodging.

Then again, I was at every home game in 1969, when the Bears went 1-13. Their only win came against the Steelers, who also went 1-13. With that tie-breaker, Pittsburgh drafted Terry Bradshaw and won four Super Bowls. The Bears traded the second pick overall to Green Bay for an Over-the-Hill Gang—Lee Roy Caffey, Elijah Pitts and Bob Hyland.

Knowing that, you would think I wouldn’t be so concerned about the Bears’ draft position.

Never mind. It’s a Bears’ fan thing.[/membership]