The Chicago Bears looked like a Super Bowl contender against the Seattle Seahawks in their first playoff game after the bye on Sunday, winning 35-24. The game was over almost before it started, with an over-matched Seattle team barely putting up any opposition.
How things would have been different if they had played their hated rival, the Green Bay Packers this weekend. The Packers demolished the No. 1 seed Atlanta Falcons last night 48 -21, and the game wasn't that close.
Take away a turnover by the Packers that led to an Atlanta touchdown, along with a kickoff return for a TD, and this blowout would have been an even bigger embarrassment.
But why was the No. 1 seed playing the one team nobody wanted to play when they had the best record? Was it because of the NFL seeding, where a division winner gets a higher seed than a far superior team, or was it a continuation of the Chicago Bears luck?
Imagine being the No. 2 seed and having the biggest point spread over your opponent, while Atlanta had the lowest. Seems kind of unfair, doesn't it?
Well that luck is about to run out.
The Bears are going to meet the Packers in the playoffs for only the second time in both teams' storied histories. They last played in 1941 when the Bears won 33-14.
The Bear's meatball fans have been clamoring for a match-up against the Packers on the lakefront in Chicago for the NFC Championship, and the right to advance to the Super Bowl.
Be careful what you wished for Bear fans, because your worst nightmare is about to come true.
Even though it would have been a road game, the Bears would have had a much better chance of winning in Atlanta than they do at home against the Packers.
Their team is built for a dome and a fast surface. They really haven't played that well on the home field this year, with probably the worst turf in the league.
And they have no advantage playing at home other than playing before the home fans. The Packers are just as used to playing in the cold as the Bears are, maybe even more so.
This game could come down to turnovers and special teams, and that is an advantage for the Bears. But in the last game of the season, when the Bears had a chance to eliminate the Packers, those advantages were non-factors.
That's going to come back to haunt the Bears.
The Bears did beat the Packers early in the season, but that was a game where the 'Pack' set a team record for penalties. Despite that, the Packers had a chance to win until James Jones fumbled late in the game and set up the winning field goal.
They also had a couple of touchdowns called back because of those penalties.
The Packers have persevered despite tremendous adversity, while the Bears have flourished because of their good fortune.
The Packers have lost 91 starter games due to injury. In the past, that only happened to three other teams, and none of them won more than six games.
Do you think the Bears would still be playing if the injury situation were reversed?
If the special teams and turnovers are neutralized, which is a big if, the game will come down to the defense and the quarterbacks.
Both teams have good defenses, but the Packers put more pressure on the quarterback, especially with Clay Matthews, who is likely to be Defensive Player of the Year. They also play a more aggressive style of defense with Don Capers running the show.
He puts in all kinds of looks and blitzes to confuse the opposition, along with having Charles Woodson, who is one of the best at coming in untouched and sacking the quarterback.
Jay Cutler is very effective when he can sit back and find open receivers, but tends to rush things and make mistakes when someone is in his face.
The Bears meanwhile play the Cover 2, a defense tailor-made for Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers.
Which quarterback do you think is more likely to handle the pressure, Rodgers or Jay Cutler?
Rodgers is one of the best quarterbacks in football, and in my opinion, top three and maybe top two if you consider his quarterback rating in the playoffs. The numbers are staggering; 121, 122, and 136.
No one has ever done that before.
In the only game he lost, he threw for 433 yards and four touchdowns.
The Packers have averaged 38 points a game in his three playoff starts, including a playoff record 10 touchdowns passes in those games.
He was 31-36 Saturday night, with 366 yards and three touchdowns.
Do you really think the Bears are going to be able to stop him?
Even though the Bears are playing at home, the Packers are 3-point favorites in this game.
Do you think the oddsmakers know something that you don't? That perhaps despite the Bears haughty record, they're really not that good?
Feel free to tell me that I'm right.
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