Friday, December 11, 2009

Rivalry Week

Although not the circumstances that Bears fans were hoping for in mid-December, this week’s matchup with the rival Packers represents an opportunity to build on last week’s victory over St. Louis, as well as disrupt the Green Bay playoff run.

The 5-7 Bears play host to the 8-4 Packers on Sunday, in a game that should prove to be critical to the post-season hopes of Green Bay. Coming off an impressive Monday night win over the Ravens at Lambeau, the Packers march into town trailing the Vikings by two games in the NFC “Norris” division.

The Packers have very little margin for error if they expect to remain in the playoff hunt. Along with the Pack, Dallas, Philly, and Arizona share 8-4 records. The Giants are just a game back at 7-5, and the Falcons are still alive at 6-6. The Cards will take the NFC West. Of the remaining five teams at 8-4, 7-5, and 6-6, only two will earn a Wildcard spot. The Chicago Bears can play a role in derailing the Packers come Sunday afternoon.

Considering the Pack will be facing a road game in a short week, the possibility of an upset by Chicago is viable. It’s a nothing-to-lose scenario fore the Bears, but in order to play with the Packers for 60 minutes, both the offense and defense will have to play mistake-free football.

Aaron Rodgers is continuing to prove that he is on the verge of quarterback superstardom, as he enters Week 14 with MVP type numbers. The Packer QB has thrown for 3399 yards, 25 touchdowns, and just 7 interceptions. Rodgers is also completing over 65% of his passes. The Green Bay defense has been equally impressive all season, as it ranks number three in the NFL, yielding just 86.3 pass yards per game. The run defense has been stout as well, surrendering a stingy 87.2 yards per game, good for fourth in the league.

What these statistics mean to the Bears is simple. Keep Rodgers and the Packer offense off the field by playing ball control, error-free football. On defense, it will be critical to play opportunistically, as Chicago will be facing an offensive machine that will likely be slowed only by turnovers. A big play or two will be needed if the Bears expect to have any chance to stay with the explosive Packers. These guys are not the St. Louis Rams.

The lowly Browns shocked the defending Super Bowl Champion Pittsburgh Steelers last night in Cleveland. Anything is possible in a rivalry game. This Bears group is certainly more talented than the Cleveland bunch. It will take a near-perfect effort by the Bears, but I think this team will rise to the occasion and get it done.

Bears 17 Packers 14

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