First, realize that this is ONE game. There is no "best of seven" series to decide the winner; the losers will go home and the winners will have earned a chance to win the Superbowl. If that isn't enough, which I will point out it usually is (based on the NFL's annual ratings for NFC Championship games), then come to terms with the fact that this is the greatest rivarly in all of football... and arguably in sports. [As a side thought- is it the greatesr rivalry in sports? To any of you thinking of going east coast on me: keep it. I acknowledge Red Sox/Yankees, but that one is just too spiteful and, quite literally, just too "east-coasty," for me to care about. Cubs/Cardinals is the only rivalry I can honestly say might challenge Bears/Packers... and even then I cannot decide].
The NFL's eldest rivarly will finally be put on display in the spotlight that it deserves, and this is simply as good as it gets. The Bears and Packers cannot play eachother for the Vince Lombardi trophy since two teams from the same league cannot both advance to the Superbowl. Instead they must battle it out for the George Halas trophy, which goes to the NFC's representative in the Superbowl (and yes: I realize this is NFL Football 101). But pointing that out magnifies the significance of this one single event.
This is the most important game that the Bears and Packers will have ever faced each other in. Even the trophy that is up for grabs Sunday, and the one that the winner will earn a chance to play for, acknowledge this significance. Bears' legend George Halas is remembered every year as the NFC's best playoff team is honored by earning a trophy with his name on it, and then that team battles on in hopes of raising the trophy awarded to the Superbowl winner, which is named after Packer great Vince Lombardi. Who cares about the AFC right?
My point? Either the Packers will be hoisting a Bear-related trophy in Chicago on Sunday, or the Bears will have a chance to hoist a Packer-related trophy in Dallas. This rivalry has never been better than it is right now, and leading through Sunday.
When we undress this situation to its bear bones (pun intended?), we have two of the NFL's most historic franchises battling it out for three plus hours attempting to earn the Conference Championship, named after and honoring a Bear, to hopefully go on and win the League Championship, named after a Packer. Sports do not get any better than this.
Emotion is and always will be a major part of all fandoms. We hate Packer fans and they hate us, likely more than our two teams realistically dislike each other, but that's okay: we do not watch the game and root for our team for the players; we do it for ourselves. We, as fans, want the right to say the team we like the best just so happens to actually be the best. There may be particular players that we are personally happy for once a victory is secured, but when it comes right down to it, this is a selfish and emotional interest.
Fans feel good by being logically supported when they say that the team they love is the best, and that is the exact validation that we seek in rooting for a Bears' Superbowl victory. But now, in order to earn that chance, we get to root for our team to take the next step towards that goal by stomping the hell out of the team whose validation we most want to see crushed.
As fans, it is all or nothing now: we are all in. The cards have all been dealt, the emotions are dangling dangerously before us, and scissors are slicing through the air everywhere. All that is left is to see who is going to come out on top.
Come Sunday evening, Bear fans may all be devasted and feel like crawling into deep holes where noisy, loud, and (obviously) dimwitted northerners cannot find us to rub chunky snow salt into our already deep wounds. At the same time, we may be carrying our own bags of salt with us up I-94, as we ourselves seek-out every cheesehead we can, relishing in the thought of making them shiver in pain and distress and we chant our mighty rally song honoring the victorious, and gloriously epic, Chicago Bears. Either way, win or lose, this is simply what sports are all about.
Right now the outcome doesn't matter, and I urge fans on both sides of the battle to embrace each other: this is the greatest week in the history of our beloved rivarly, so enjoy it! On Sunday, half of us will never want to remember it again.