NFC Championship Game 2011: Bears Are Jets' Mirror Image

Josh DelpContributor IJanuary 21, 2011

CHICAGO, IL - JANUARY 16:  Chester Taylor #29 of the Chicago Bears runs the ball against the Seattle Seahawks in the 2011 NFC divisional playoff game at Soldier Field on January 16, 2011 in Chicago, Illinois.  (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

The Chicago Bears are in the NFC Championship Game. They won the NFC North. They have an opportunity to play in the Super Bowl for the second time in five years. Can somebody tell me how they got to this point?

The Bears’ playoff hopes seemed dim at the start of the season. It was the Packers and Vikings who were supposed to be in the playoffs. But as one team falls in the division, another rises. The Vikings turned in a turmoil-filled and ineffective 6-10 season, so it was the Bears who took advantage of their struggles.

The addition of Mike Martz to the coaching staff had the people in Chicago raving. He will be a great coach to Jay Cutler, who struggled in his first year with the Bears last season. It turns out the marriage has been successful to this point. With this said, I find myself asking the same question: How did they get to this point?

The Bears started the season 4-3. That included a loss to a team they beat last week in the Seahawks. That also included a game in which Cutler threw the ball to Redskins cornerback DeAngelo Hall four times for interceptions in a 17-14 loss.

But Bears supporters and analysts will tell you that was a different team. They proceeded to finish the season 7-2. The only blowouts during that stretch were a pair of wins against the disastrous Vikings and the inconsistent Dolphins, who started third-stringer Tyler Thigpen in that game. The other six games were all decided by five points or less. A couple of them could have gone the other way.

And how about the luck of the draw in playing the 7-9 Seahawks instead of getting the Packers last week? I don’t think anybody thought the Seahawks were going to beat the Bears again on the road. Let’s not forget about the Bears’ chance to knock the Packers out of playoff contention in their final game of the season, which they lost 10-3. The playoff landscape would be vastly different had they taken care of business.

Their reward is a rematch with the red-hot, Aaron Rodgers-led Green Bay Packers for a third go-round. It’s a game that will surely come down to whose unit will prevail: the Packers offense or the Bears defense. Let’s not also forget that the Bears offense has to go up against a pretty formidable Packers defense as well.

Regardless of how they got here, the Bears are here. It doesn’t matter if the Packers are favored on the road. They believe in themselves. And they are ready to prove everybody wrong, much like a certain team in the AFC is poised to do the same.