The Green Bay Packers and Chicago Bears
have faced off against each other 181 times, but Sunday's NFC
Championship matchup will be the biggest meeting to date. This will be
only the second time ever that the two have played each other in the
playoffs, and the first time they've met in the NFC Championship.
This year, the Packers and Bears have split their head-to-head
match-ups, setting up for a rubber match on Sunday. There has only been a
combined 60 total points against each other this year. Both games came
down to the wire.
In Week 3, Jay Cutler led his team to a game-winning field goal. In
Week 17, it was Jay Cutler again who was responsible for the outcome,
only this time it was a game-ending interception in the end zone. The
question for this Sunday is, which Jay Cutler will show up?
If last weekend was any indication, Bears fans can sleep a little
easier. It was Cutler's first playoff game, but that didn't seem to
phase him. He accounted for four total touchdowns (two passing, two
rushing) and threw for 274 yards. Most importantly, he threw for zero
interceptions. The one catch is that he did it against the less
talented, albeit over-achieving, Seattle Seahawks. The Packers defense
is just a tad bit better than the 'hawks'.
Also quite noteworthy is the fact that Seattle was also able to score
three touchdowns in the 4th quarter alone, after not being able to move
the ball for the first three quarters. For a Bears defense that is
about to face one of the hottest offenses in the NFL, this is a bit concerning.
Unfortunately this has been typical for the Bears all year long. Remember back to Week 12,when
was shut down all game, until the fourth quarter when the Eagles
proceeded to come within five points. Granted, it hasn't cost the Bears a
game yet, but you can only play with fire for so long. Against a Packer
offense, led by , these defensive lapses need to come to an end for Chicago.
Believe it or not, Rodgers has his flaws as well. While he has been
great in almost every statistical category, he still carries with him a
career record of 9-14 in games decided by four points or fewer. It would
be irresponsible to direct the entire blame towards Rodgers for all of
those losses, but he still needs to prove that he can lead his team to
victory in the closing minutes.
At the level he is playing right now, there is little doubt that he
can take that next step. Talent-wise he is the best quarterback left in
the playoffs, arguably in the entire NFL for that matter. The only thing
separating him from a guy like is the game-winning drives on his resume. Well, that and two Super Bowl rings.
This game between Green Bay and Chicago will not be pretty or
high-scoring, but you can bet that it will be close. The two teams are
very similar in that they have stout defenses and young, talented
quarterbacks. The Packers are the more talented team, but playing a
division opponent at home in bad weather, and for a third time, is quite
the equalizer. On the other hand, we've seen how little home-field
advantage has meant in the playoffs this year. In the end, it will come
down to which quarterback can take that next step in leading his team to
victory down the stretch.
I think this is the game that Rodgers completes this feat and notches
his first game-winning drive in a big game. The way this Packer defense
is playing, I'm not sure if Cutler can do the same.
Prediction: Packers 20-Bears 19