Saturday, January 22, 2011

Packers at Bears

What better way to determine the NFC champion than to have the Packers play the Bears. These two teams have a combined 21 NFL World Championships (Packers-12, Bears-9). It is only right that one of these two historically dominant teams will once again be on football’s greatest stage.

This game will eventually come down to who wants it more. These teams play each other twice every year and are the oldest rivals in the NFL. They know what to expect from each other. This makes it very difficult to predict the winner but I, obviously, am picking the Packers. Below are some key factors as to why I think the Packers will come away with a victory:

1. I AM A PACKER FAN. If I picked the Bears I would be disowned by the Packer nation.

2. Clay Matthews: He has truly emerged as one of the league’s top defenders and is a leading candidate for the Defensive MVP. Separate from this, Matthews plays with pure passion every time he steps on the field. During his two playoffs starts this year he has 3 sacks, including one on the very elusive Mike Vick. If Matthews can once again show off his pass rushing skills and consistently pressure Jay Cutler, the Packers will be in good shape to pull off a win. Cutler is known to make some bad decisions when he is under pressure so getting to him early and often will be huge for Matthews and the rest of the Packer defense.

3. Green Bay’s Running Game: The Packers struggled running the ball during the regular season and were very one dimensional. Although, Aaron Rodgers and his very talented receivers can take control of a game, it is always nice to have a consistent running game. Surprisingly, the Packers have found a solid ground game for the playoffs. James Starks has the most rushing yards out of anyone this postseason with 189 yards. He broke out onto the scene in the wildcard round in Philadelphia, when he carried the ball 23 times for 123 yards. This was more than he had the whole regular season due to him being on the physically unable to perform list. If Starks can gain positive yards consistently against the Bears’ greedy defense, it will open up the play action passes and help Green Bay’s already dangerous passing game.

4. Special Teams: Green Bay’s special teams unit has always struggled. If they want to win this game they will have to contain Devin Hester and Danieal Manning. In week 3, when the Packers lost to the Bears, it was due to a lack of punt coverage. Devin Hester returned a punt all the way and that swung the momentum to the Bears and carried them to victory. Green Bay certainly can’t match the explosiveness of the Bears’ special teams, but they can try to eliminate the big plays by just staying in their coverage lanes and finishing their tackles.

I’m sure there are many other factors that will play into the outcome of this game but these are some that I found most important. If you disagree please comment and let me know what you think.

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