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NFC Championship Game
Green Bay Packers vs. Chicago Bears
Betting Line: Packers -3.5 or -3 -135 o/u 43.5
The rivalry of rivalry's started in 1921. Since then the Chicago Bears and Green Bay Packers have played 181 times. Only one other time (in 1941) has there been so much riding on one particular game. The Bears easily won that contest 33-14.
This time it won't be that easy.
The Green Bay Packers (12-6) have been playing at a championship level for the past month now. In their two-playoff games, the Pack snuck by the Philadelphia Eagles 21-16 and dominated the number one seeded Atlanta Falcons 48-21. Quarterback Aaron Rodgers has been on fire, completing 49 of 63 passes for 546 yards, six touchdowns and no interceptions. Rodgers performance against the Falcons was supernatural. He completed 31 of 36 passes for 366 yards and four touchdowns. His pinpoint passing and his poise have the Packers believing they are Super Bowl bound.
However, against the Bears his statistics have not been nearly as impressive. He has completed almost seventy percent of his passes, but he also has as many interceptions (two) as he does touchdown passes. Rookie running back James Starks has been a nice surprise for Green Bay, running the ball with purpose and skill. Starks has gained 189 yards in his two starts and scored two touchdowns. Starks sidekick John Kuhn gained only 281 yards during the season, but his short bursts for first downs have been extremely helpful.
Starks will likely find at very difficult to get yards against the Bears
number two-ranked run defense. The Green Bay defense came up very big against
the Falcons, recovering two fumbles and intercepting Matt Ryan twice. Tramon
Williams had the play of the game, returning one of the interceptions 70 yards
for a touchdown. That play flipped the momentum in Green Bay's favor, giving the
Pack a 28-14 lead.
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Last week against the Seahawks, the Bears offense scored on their third play, a 58-yard bomb from quarterback Jay Cutler to tight end Greg Olsen. They scored two more times in the second quarter on touchdown runs of 1 yard by Chester Taylor and 6 yards by Jay Cutler. Running back Matt Forte picked up 134 multi purpose yards. Cutler threw for 274 yards, had two TD passes, and scored on an additional running touching, giving him two for the day.
Cutler has struggled in his career against the Packers, completing only 55 percent of his passes and throwing nine picks. In the Bears 10-3 lost to the Pack, Cutler was sacked six times. Bears wide receivers Johnny Knox and Earl Bennett caught five passes, while Olsen rumbled for 113 yards. Chicago's defense held Seattle to 276 total yards for the game, with most of the yards coming when the game had already been decided. The Bears only sacked Seattle quarterback Matt Hasselbeck two times, but were in the backfield pushing Hasselback who didn't like all that attention.
It's incredibly tempting to side with the home underdog in this spot. The Bears have kind of flown under the radar all year long. They haven't received much credit along the way, and here they are in their own building, an underdog to a team that had trouble putting them away at home a few weeks ago in order to just get in to the playoffs.
Let's look at the yards per point numbers of the 4 teams in the title games this weekend. Again, we love this stat because it's a quick snapshot of a teams strength on both sides of the ball. The first number is offense, the 2nd defense. The lower the number on offense the better. The higher on defense, the better. This is for all games played this year.
Steelers = 14.3 and 17.8 +3.5
Jets = 15.2 and 15.7 +.5
Packers = 14.2 and 19.8 +5.6
Bears = 13.7 and 17.1 +3.4
As you can see, of the 4 remaining teams, the Packers have the best overall numbers. All of the teams are fairly close offensively, but the Packers defense puts them over the top. That 19.8 is a very impressive number folks. Even more interesting is that the Bears numbers actually go down at home, where this year, they have a 14.7 defensive ypp number at home while the Packers maintain that fantastic defensive number on the road, dropping very slightly to 19.5.
This should be a good one. Plenty of wild cards in this one, such a Devin Hestor, a game changer if there ever was one. But at the end of the day it comes down to siding with the better team in a spot like this. The numbers tell us that the Packers are not only the better team in this game, but are also the best team of the 4 remaining playoff teams. Aside from the numbers, let's face it, these Packers seem to have a little playoff magic going. Call it destiny, momentum, or whatever you want, but the Packers definitely have it.
We also prefer Rogers over Cutler. We'll take the
Packers -3 -135 and we'll make it a 2*