NFC Championship Preview

Posted: January 20, 2011 in News

This story was written by Marc Denson. Follow him on Twitter @vball4life614.

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Clay Matthews

Packers linebacker Clay Matthews will play a significant role in this weekend's Packers-Bears game. How well he defends the middle of the field could put pressure on Jay Cutler (NFL.com).

Round One – Chicago.

Round Two – Green Bay.

Which one of the National Football League’s oldest rival members will deliver the final knockout blow in the NFC Championship game, both literally and figuratively?

Sunday afternoon, at Soldier Field in Chicago, the Bears and Packers will clash for the 182nd time. This occasion will be the first postseason contest since 1941 – a week after the attacks on Pearl Harbor.

To the victor of this game goes the George Halas Trophy, symbolizing the National Football Conference champion. Not only are the stakes of a Super Bowl berth eminent, but the bragging rights from this game will linger on for decades to come.

The first meeting between the Bears and Packers this season came on September 27 which was also Week 3 and was the Monday Night Football game that week. The Bears won this meeting 20-17. With this win, the Bears showed that the Packers are not the only team that can win the NFC North. Jay Cutler threw for 221 yards with 1 touchdown and 1 pick, Brian Urlacher forced a key fumble and Chicago took advantage of a team-record of 18 penalties by the Packers. With 4 seconds left in the game, Bears’ kicker Robbie Gould made a 19-yard field goal. Aaron Rodgers threw for 316 yards a touchdown and a pick as well. Rodgers also rushed for a touchdown. The win in Week 3 helped the Bears build all the confidence they needed to get right where they are, back to playing the Packers again, but this time for the NFC Championship and a trip to Dallas.

When the Bears met the Packers in Week 17, January 2, the Packers were able to defeat the Bears 10-3. This game was mostly a defensive showing and met everything for the Packers and next to nothing for the Bears. The Packers needed the win in order to make it to the playoffs and at this point the Bears had already clinched not only the playoffs, but the #2 seed as well. Rodgers passed for 229 yards with one touchdown and one interception. Jay Cutler threw for 168 yards with 2 picks.

Bears’ coach Lovie Smith gave his take on the upcoming NFC Championship between the Bears and Packers. Smith stated, “If you’re beating your rival and you’re winning your division, you have a chance to achieve your ultimate goal, winning the Super Bowl. Those are our three goals that we’ll have every year I’m leading this program. Guys have bought into it and we still have an opportunity to achieve all those goals.” Lovie Smith has high hopes for his team just like he did in 2006 when they went to the Super Bowl and lost to the Indianapolis Colts. Smith also added that there is nothing better than seeing the Bears and the Packers battling it out for a chance to go to the Super Bowl.

Packers’ coach Mike McCarthy also had a few words to say about this Sunday’s matchup between the Bears and Packers for a spot in the ‘grand-daddy’ of football, the Super Bowl. McCarthy said that the Bears have a good defense. McCarthy is also aware that the Bears defense is number one.  “It’s a system that’s been in place there for quite some time,” McCarthy added about the Bears defense.  Coach McCarthy has a lot of work to do to try to solve the almost unstoppable defense of the Bears. McCarthy thinks the fact that they (the Packers) have played the Bears twice already is an advantage. “You know what you’re walking into. You know how they’re going to play, and I think that’s the way you like to play,” McCarthy adds on playing the Bears twice already this season.

This game is going to be one for the ages, that is if the Packers can establish an effective ground game and the Bears offense shows up to play like they have in the past few games.

If the Packers do not establish a ground game, then it is going to be a long day for Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers. Playing against the number one defense in the league, Rodgers is going to need help all around if he hopes to be successful against the Bears on Sunday. Although the Bears have the best rush defense in the game, without establishing a ground game, the Packers will be torn apart through the air at some point in the game with the heavy Bears blitz. The most obvious thing the Packers must do is keep the ball away from the best returner in the game, Devin Hester. Anytime Hester has the ball in his hands, it can go for a huge touchdown such as Hester has been doing his whole career, returning kicks all the way back.

The Bears will need to have a good offensive showing if they want to beat the Packers. Although the Bears have based winning off their defense, the Packers are a strong offensive team and are no slouches on the defensive side of the ball either. The Packers’ defense are the 5th best in both total yards per game against with 309.1 and passing yards per game against with 194.2. The Bears began the season struggling offensively because of Mike Martz’s pass heavy offense, but Martz has been able to balance the offense which has helped the Bears a lot with their success. The ground game has always been a  huge part of the Bears offense ever since the Bears came into existence. Also, the Bears have to put Charles ‘Peanut’ Tillman on Greg Jennings for most of the game. Tillman did an outstanding down shutting down the Seahawks #1 receiver, Mike Wallace, holding Wallace to just 15 yards. That is a huge feat and a key to why the Bears defeated the Seahawks. Tillman is the Bears #1 back and you have to trust him to play with Rodgers’ favorite target, Greg Jennings. Jennings is a physical receiver, but Tillman can also be physical when needed and the Bears will need that out of him on Sunday.

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  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Brett Lyons, Brett Lyons. Brett Lyons said: @vball4life614 RT Here's a preview of this weekend's AFC (http://bit.ly/ersWXj) and NFC (http://bit.ly/if8bRi) Championship Games. #NFL […]

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