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Matt Forte has sprained MCL as Bears playoff hopes grow dimmerDuring the Bears' ugly 10-3 loss to the Chiefs, Matt Forte(notes) was injured on a first-quarter run when he took a helmet to the knee. He left the game and didn't return. The Chicago Sun-Times is now reporting that Forte sustained a sprained MCL, and Lovie Smith confirmed it was a "sprained knee" in his post-game news conference.

That diagnosis is preliminary, and Forte will undergo many tests before the Bears set a timetable for his return. However, sprained MCLs typically have a recovery time of 2-4 weeks.

The bigger problem for Chicago is that he is the second key offensive player lost to injury in as many weeks. Jay Cutler(notes) broke his thumb against the Chargers and won't likely be back before the end of the regular season. His replacement, Caleb Hanie(notes) has struggled in his two starts.

Now, the other reliable source of yardage will likely have to miss games. Forte came into Sunday's game ranked third in the league for rushing yardage. Effective both as a rusher and a receiver, Forte has 1,475 yards from scrimmage. He is playing on the final year of his rookie contract. His drawn-out contract talks gave birth to a Twitter campaign, begging Bears management to "Pay Forte."

The Bears will now turn to Marion Barber(notes) and Kahlil Bell, but neither man can gain yards on every play like Forte can. Barber is best in short yardage situations, while Bell is an inexperience backup who has spent most of his time on special teams.

The Bears are 7-5. Normally, they would need to win just three of their next five games to get into the playoffs as they already have tiebreakers over Atlanta and Detroit. However, with both Cutler and Forte out as the Bears face the Broncos, Chicago's playoff hopes are diminishing.

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