The long-time rivals will meet in the playoffs for only the second time, and the first time since 1941, when the Green Bay Packers travel to Soldier Field to face the Chicago Bears. The Packers are fresh off of an impressive win over the top-seeded Atlanta Falcons, 48-21, on Saturday night at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta. The Packers carved up Atlanta’s zone defense all night long and were able to move the ball at will, especially through the air. Quarterback Aaron Rodgers only missed on five passes as he threw for 366 yards and three touchdowns.
Rodgers wasn’t the only one who played his best game of the year, as the Packers were firing on all cylinders as they outplayed and outcoached the NFC favorite. Coach Mike McCarthy’s game plan was among the best the league has seen all season, as the Packers wide receivers were seemingly wide open throughout the entire game, finding holes all over the zone defense that the Falcons had played so well up until that point.
This week they will have a tougher task at hand when they have to brave the elements and play in the heart of winter in Chicago as opposed to playing in a comfortable dome setting. Once they get outside, they will also have a tougher team in front of them, as the Bears will bring one of the league’s best defenses out on Sunday. Their defense, led by Julius Peppers and Brian Urlacher, allowed only 17.9 points-per-game in the regular season and held Green Bay to 10 points in week 17.
The Packers ultimately won that game, but if they want a repeat of that result they will have to put up more than 10 points, as Bears quarterback Jay Cutler is coming off of the best performances of his career in his first postseason game since high school. Against Seattle, Cutler threw for 274 yards and two touchdowns, including a 58-yard bomb to Greg Olsen on his first pass of the game, and also ran for two scores. Perhaps even more important is the number zero, which is the number of turnovers the often interception-prone quarterback had on Sunday.
It will be much more difficult for Cutler to repeat that performance against a Packers secondary that is considered among the best in the league. The Packers will try to pressure Cutler and get him to make a bad throw to either of their brilliant corners, Charles Woodson or Tramon Williams. If he they are successful and are able to force a couple of interceptions it could be a long day for the Bears and the start of a celebration in Green Bay. However, if Cutler is able to avoid the big mistake and pick his spots efficiently, the Bears could very well be on their way to their second Super Bowl since the 2006 season. Either way, it will be an exciting game between two of the league’s oldest rivals.