Packers at Bears NFC Championship Preview

| January 19th, 2011

I won’t sleep Saturday night and I might not sleep Friday night without the aid of my old friend Ethyl Alcohol.  If this were the Falcons on the opposing sideline, the Saints…who knows?  But it is the Green Bay Packers, the oldest rival of our beloved franchise, and I can’t stomach the notion of Aaron Rodgers holding the Halas Trophy at Soldier Field.

Your ‘On the Verge’ 2010 Chicago Bears
The Green Bay Packers Football Club

Why Do I Like the Chicago Bears this Week?
  • I always like the Chicago Bears.
  • I think it’s time to recognize the Bears have a significant home field advantage not only because of the crowd, wind and weather but also because their turf minimizes the speed of outside threats and restricts receivers from making slant cuts under the coverage.
  • Aaron Rodgers, outside a 37-point output in his first start, has scored 17, 21, 21, 17 and 10 in the subsequent five games against Lovie Smith’s defenses.  This is the best Bears defense he’ll have faced (better than Week 17).
  • I don’t believe for a second James Starks is the real deal at running back and I think the Packers will need to move the ball continually through the air to generate long drives.  The Bears defense is not the Falcons defense.
  • Maybe I’m misguided, “drinking the Kool-Aid” as they say, but I believe in the corner combination of Charles Tillman and Tim Jennings.  They are being left in man-to-man situations far more than usual and truly excelling at times.
  • Julius Peppers.  The Green Bay offensive line was not great against Atlanta, relying on Rodgers’ escapability to the outside.  I expect a big day from Orange Julius.  And when they kick and punt back to us…
  • Devin Hester.  When I saw Eric Weems return a kickoff 102 yards for a touchdown last week against the Packers, I sensed a long week of debate for Mike McCarthy.  For some reason I think the focal point of our conversations Monday morning will be Hester.
  • I do believe Matt Forte/Chester Taylor can improve on their 18 rush, 102-yard performance from Week 17 and I think it will be a product of usage.  With 8:10 remaining in that game and Bears facing a second-and-nine, the Bears were sacked on back-to-back plays ending the drive.  When they got the ball back, they ran twice to set up a third-and-one (with 3:59 on the clock) and never rushed the ball again.  Lovie believes they learned a lot in Week 17.  I think this sequence was a primary teacher.  
  • The Packers showed everything they had in the blitz department in Week 17 and I think the Bears will be prepared to attack with the short passing/screen game.  
  • I think I redeveloped my confidence in our return coverage with the unit’s near-dominant handling of Leon Washington.
  • I really believe this game will be decided by one person: Jay Cutler.  While he outwardly dislikes the media and seems to shrug off his own failings, I believe embraces competition in the truest sense and I think he knows the ultimate middle finger to the world would be outplaying Aaron Rodgers Sunday.  I think he does.
Chicago Bears 27, Green Bay Packers 17

Editor’s Note:  Fantasy Playoffs selections are due by 11:00 AM CST Friday.  Only ChiTown Hustler, Shady and MikeBrownhadaPosse are still outstanding.