Like polar bears forced from their ice floats prematurely in the spring, the Chicago Bears are coming into our community this Christmas Night. If the no-longer perfect Green Bay Packers can drive them back, home-field advantage will be secured all the way to the Super Bowl.
Of course, that will already be secured should the San Francisco 49ers lose the day before. Even then, a Packers' win is likely to officially knock the Bears out of the playoffs.
Moreover, Green Bay will want badly to bounce back after its first loss of the season. Given the Bears playoff hopes will be remote even with a win, this means the Packers have more to play for.
(Note: Do not expect any home-field advantage. In Lovie Smith's tenure, the home team has had no advantage. If anything, there is the potential that weather influences could slow down the Packers' prolific passing attack.)
Obviously, the Packers come in playing better, as well. One loss does not compare to four. Green Bay is more disciplined (almost two fewer penalties for 16.5 fewer yards per game) and players and coaches are more accomplished.
But for the third time this season, the opponent is changing quarterbacks. The unknown of the offense led by a new quarterback may be the only intangible the Bears have going for them.
Last week's veteran avoided turnovers and was very efficient: 23-for-31 (.742) for 299 yards (9.6 per attempt). Luke McCown is no Kyle Orton. But he is capable of managing the game nearly as well.
But how do the teams match up when the ball is snapped?