Packers vs. Bears: 5 Matchups To Watch on Christmas Day

Michael KimbleContributor IIIDecember 21, 2011

Packers vs. Bears: 5 Matchups To Watch on Christmas Day

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    The Packers face the Chicago Bears, a team who is on a four-game losing streak ever since losing their starting quarterback Jay Cutler. Despite this big loss, it is still a big rivalry game, and the Packers, despite their 13-1 record, are beat up themselves, as they are forced to start several backup offensive linemen against a stout Bears defensive line.

    Both teams will be beat up with injuries going into this game, particularly on the offensive side of the ball. Both teams will also be hungry for a win, with both of them losing in Week 15. Here are the top five matchups that will be key in this game, and will likely determine the outcome of the division-rivalry contest.

5. Charles Woodson vs. Josh McCown

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    Charles Woodson has taken advantage of many inexperienced quarterbacks this season, intercepting rookie quarterbacks Christian Ponder and Cam Newton on the year.

    Woodson is a veteran who can definitely be a headache for any quarterback, especially a back-up quarterback in Josh McCown, who does not have a lot of experience in the Bears offense, let alone a lot of experience on the field in general.

    Woodson will likely take advantage of the rough quarterback situation in Chicago, and if he doesn't, other playmakers like Tramon Williams, Sam Shields and Morgan Burnett certainly will.

4. Clay Matthews vs. Bears Offensive Line

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    Clay Matthews hasn't statistically had a great year, but he has still been able to effectively rush the passer and make plays. He should certainly be able to take advantage of a weak Bears offensive line, who has been dealing with the loss of veteran center Olin Kreutz all season and has recently been without Gabe Carimi.

    As a whole, the Packers' linebacking corps should be able to get to the quarterback, especially considering the inexperience of the quarterback and the offensive line protecting him.

    The only thing that could get in the way is their own defensive line, who has had recent troubles pressuring their opponents and creating space for the pass rushers. Hopefully Ryan Pickett will return to the game this week after being absent in Kansas City.

3. Mason Crosby and Tim Masthay vs. Devin Hester

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    In the past few games, Mason Crosby and Tim Masthay have done a good job kicking away from Devin Hester, but this is always a hard thing to do. Since Hester is one of the best return men in NFL history, it will be important for the Packers' special teams to contain him.

    With the Bears offense in such rough shape, Chicago will likely rely on their defense and special teams to give them a spark. If the Packers let Hester run wild, it could be a big momentum swing in favor of the Bears.

2. Julius Peppers vs. Packers Offensive Line

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    The Packers offensive line might be as banged up as the Bears', which could make for a low-scoring, defensive contest.

    With the Bears' defensive line being so stout with Julius Peppers, Lance Briggs and Brian Urlacher bearing down on the quarterback, it is highly likely that this inexperienced offensive line will give up a sack or two.

    It is imperative that the Packers' offensive line protect the quarterback, as they need to keep Rodgers upright and healthy to give them the best chance to win. But on Sunday, they will be facing one of the best defensive lines in football, making this a very tough task for them.

1. Aaron Rodgers vs. Brian Urlacher

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    Aaron Rodgers and Brian Urlacher seem to be playing a chess game whenever they take the field. Urlacher is one of the few defensive players that has been able to confuse Rodgers and force him to make a bad decision, something that has happened twice in the last two games they have played together.

    Urlacher may not physically be as dominant as he once was, but he is one of the smartest defensive players in football, and he and Rodgers have started a friendly rivalry that has certainly gotten the best of both players.

    If Urlacher forces Rodgers to make a poor decision in a pivotal moment in the game, it could be another way for the Bears to take the momentum from their division rivals on Christmas.