It's so strange to think that the 2010-2011 NFL season is almost over, with only four teams still in the hunt for the Lombardi Trophy.
It seems like the Rams were selecting Sam Bradford with the No. 1 overall pick in the 2010 NFL Draft mere days ago.
Let's not get all teary and emotional, though *sniffle*.
Seriously folks, we've got some great football in front of us, so let's get psyched for the weekend!
On the AFC side of the bracket, the New York Jets will be squaring off with the Pittsburgh Steelers in a game that is likely to be more physical than a WWE cage match with the trash talking to boot.
On the NFC side of the bracket, the Green Bay Packers, preseason favorites to make a Super Bowl run, face off against the Chicago Bears, who miraculously found life again this year.
Both of these games are going to be great, but I'm really only here to talk about one: The 2010-2011 NFC Championship game.
I'm sticking with the Bears on this one. Want to know why?
Well, here are 10 reasons to put your money on Da Bears this weekend.
The Green Bay Packers have had a rough going of it this season as far as injuries go, with major players at almost every position missing time due to one thing or another.
The Bears, on the other hand, have remained surprisingly healthy, with only four players on their current injury report (as opposed to 10 on the Green Bay injury report).
The better condition players are in, the better they will play, and that's going to give the Bears an immediate leg up.
Alright, that came off harsher than I thought. My apologies Seahawks fans.
Let's think of another way to put this...
How about this?: I'm hard pressed to think of another team that started the week with a bye, and then had to play its first game against someone like the Seattle Seahawks (at home no less).
The Bears made short work of the Seahawks, and it ultimately ended up being more of a tuneup game than anything else.
This means that they suffered minimal damage injury wise, and they had a playoff game to get their engines going.
The Bears may not have been great at running the football for most of the year, but they really came together in their first playoff game.
Sure, they were playing against the Seahawks defense, but Chester Taylor and Matt Forte combined for 124 yards and one touchdown.
One of the keys to making it in the playoffs is a good running game, and the Bears are showing that they are capable of getting that going.
Sure, Greg Olsen only had three catches, but those were some pretty special catches.
Olsen managed 113 yards and one touchdown off of those three.
With Johnny Knox and Earl Bennett on the outside and Matt Forte coming out of the backfield, the addition of Olsen to that group simply makes the Chicago Bears that much more potent through the air.
This bodes well for Mike Martz and his offense this weekend.
The Chicago Bears split their two games against the Green Bay Packers, which doesn't necessarily say that they have proven capable of beating them, but Week 3 does say something.
It showed two things:
- The Bears can stop the run. The Green Bay Packers were held to 51 yards rushing in that game.
- The Bears can come out on top in a shootout. The defense came up big for the Bears and the offense capitalized.
A three-point win doesn't normally say much, but the Week 3 win says enough.
Losses can prove good things for the losing team, believe it or not.
The Packers barely managed to secure a playoff spot for themselves in the final game of the season, pulling out a 10-3 win in the final minutes of the fourth quarter.
That's after Jay Cutler threw an interception and had already put together a fairly poor effort.
If the Bears can hold the point margin close like that again, it seems likely that the offense will figure things out and take care of what needs taking care of.
A lot of people have been talking about Clay Matthews and his impact on the game, and then they leave Julius Peppers to the wayside like he is a non-factor.
I'm not saying that Matthews is bad (quite the opposite, in fact). I'm not saying that Julius Peppers is just as good as Matthews (he's not).
He can still have a huge impact on the game.
Considering the weakness of the Green Bay Packers' offensive line, Peppers is going to have a lot of opportunities to put pressure on Aaron Rodgers, and that is going to be key. One big hit could very well take the star quarterback out of the game, knowing his concussion history.
Opponents have two options when kicking to the Chicago Bears:
- Kick it out of bounds or out of the back of the end zone. This gives up good field position.
- Kick the ball to Devin Hester, risk a touchdown.
Kicking the ball is practically a lose-lose situation, and it's all because of Devin Hester.
As much as the Bears would like to believe that their free agent acquisitions and the coaching of Lovie Smith got them to where they are now, that isn't even half the story.
The real superstars for the Chicago Bears this season have been guys like Mike Martz and Rod Marinelli, both of whom were head coaches in the NFL at one point.
The two have done wonders in their first years (two years for Marinelli, one for Martz), changing the Bears almost to a point where they look even better than they did when they made their last Super Bowl run (maybe that's because they have a quarterback now...who knows?).
Well damn, Barack Obama has thrown his support behind the Chicago Bears, even saying that he would attend the Super Bowl should they advance.
Guess the Green Bay Packers should just pack it in, because the power of the Presidential Seal of Approval is just too much to counteract.
Seriously, though, has there ever been a president who has made a bigger deal about sports than Barack Obama?