NFC Championship Game Preview: Green Bay Packers at Chicago Bears

Jeremy Pike@JeremyNPikeCorrespondent IJanuary 23, 2011

CHICAGO, IL - JANUARY 23:  Nick Collins #36 of the Green Bay Packers celebrates after Sam Shields #37 seals the win with a fourth quarter interception against the Chicago Bears in the NFC Championship Game at Soldier Field on January 23, 2011 in Chicago, Illinois.  (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
Andy Lyons/Getty Images

How much more historic does it get?

Green Bay Packers at the Chicago Bears for the National Football Conference Championship. Winner takes the George Halas Trophy and competes for the Vince Lombardi Trophy in the Super Bowl.

The Green Bay Packers are a slim favorite on the road at Soldier Field, yet a lot of people are picking the Bears because they won in Week 3 in Lambeau Field and barely lost to the Packers in a must-win game for the Packers in Week 17.

Yet when you look back at the Week 3 game for some context, it’s readily apparent that the Packers repeatedly shot themselves in the foot during that game and lost by a field goal. According to the recap here, the Packers committed 18 penalties and two turnovers. Two of those penalties erased interceptions by quarterback Jay Cutler.

The Bears have been playing quite well and deservedly host this game. However, if the Packers can play disciplined football (also known as not committing 18 penalties), their defense has the ability to completely dominate this game. Cutler is a good quarterback. He has all the physical tools draft experts look for in a quarterback.

However, he has shown that he can have mental breakdowns. The game against the Washington Redskins is the perfect demonstration of that. He threw four interceptions, all to cornerback DeAngelo Hall. If he has a day remotely near that, the Bears will lose to the Packers.

I don’t necessarily think that Cutler will be that bad. However, all those people who declared Cutler as good as Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers after the Seattle Seahawks game last week are out of their collective minds. There’s a big difference from Cutler’s performance (two passing and two rushing touchdowns) against the Seahawks at Soldier Field and Rodgers’ (three passing and one rushing touchdown) against the Atlanta Falcons, the NFC’s number one seed in the Georgia Dome.

Yes, Rodgers had the benefit of the Dome in terms of weather. There is no comparison, however, in the quality of the competition. Yes, the Seahawks beat the New Orleans Saints opening weekend of the playoffs. The Falcons have been nearly untouchable in the Georgia Dome with quarterback Matt Ryan playing.

All that being said, this game will likely come down to defense. The Bears play the Tampa-2 defense quite well. Defensive end Julius Peppers and defensive tackle Tommie Harris will be key in this game. If the Bears can get consistent pressure by rushing only four, that will give them the best chance to win this game.

The Packers under defensive coordinator Dom Capers bring a blitzing and dynamic 3-4 defense to the table. Outside linebacker Clay Matthews is the focal point of that defense and a player that has to be accounted for every time he’s on the field, but that does not mean an opposing offense can focus solely on him, with cornerback Charles Woodson playing some great football right now with his ability to blitz off the edge.

In my mind, the Packers have too many dynamic players on both sides of the ball for the Bears to handle. This should be a fairly low-scoring game unless the Packers can strike early and often. Either way, I think the Packers will win this match-up.