The upcoming NFC championship is surely going to be one for the ages. The story lines surrounding this game make it a must watch for all fans:
- Will Aaron Rodgers live up to Brett Favre's legacy that he left in Green Bay with a trip to the Super Bowl?
- Will Jay Cutler show Chicago that they finally have a franchise quarterback that can lead them to the Super Bowl?
- How will Rogers match up against Chicago's hard-nosed defense?
- As two quarterbacks that had stellar seasons face off, which one will show more leadership and lead his team to the Super Bowl?
Part of an 89-year-old rivalry, the Packers-Bears gamed promises to be a great one. Let's take a look at three things each team needs to do to earn a victory.
The Packers are a very explosive team that can put a lot of points on the board. They were 10-6 in the regular season and lost all of their games by less than a touchdown. When passing the ball well, the Packers are the most dangerous team in the NFL. They face off against a Chicago Bears team that has already beaten them this season. Here are three things they need to do to avoid another loss.
Rodgers needs to play like he did against Atlanta.
Against Atlanta, Rodgers was unstoppable, passing for 366 yards and three touchdowns. Rodgers made great throws and looked like Peyton Manning or Tom Brady. When he plays like that, Green Bay is the most dangerous team in the league, leaving opposing defenses at their mercy.
Rodgers will have no help from a Green Bay running game that ranks 24th in the league against a Chicago defense that is second in the league against the run. If he plays like he did in Atlanta, he will find himself easily cruising past the Chicago Bears.
Green Bay has to win the turnover battle.
One of the most important aspects of this game is the turnover battle. If Green Bay can win this battle, they will put Chicago at their mercy. Green Bay is a team that can explode and get five or six turnovers in a game. If they can do that against Chicago, they will dominate them.
However, the Bears defense is very stingy and has a turnover ratio of +4. They will create many turnovers through guys like Brian Urlacher, Charles Tilman and Julius Peppers. Chicago will capitalize on those turnovers a lot of the time. This is a very important aspect of the game for both teams. If Green Bay loses the turnover battle, they will find it very hard to beat a hard-hitting Bears team.
The Packers have to be great up front.
The Packers can be a great team up front with guys like Clay Matthews, A.J Hawk, B.J Raji and Cullen Jenkins. If they can put a stop to a Chicago running game that has just come off a 177-yard game against Seattle, they will force Cutler to throw the ball.
If Cutler is forced to throw, the Packers pass rush needs to force him to make bad decisions. There are two sides to Cutler—the amazing side that has a cannon of an arm and is very accurate, and there is the side that will make bad decisions and throw three to four picks a game. If Green Bay can bring out the latter, it will be a very easy victory for them.
Now that we have seen what the Packers need to do, let's look at the Chicago Bears.
The Packers face off against a 12-5 Bears team that can be very explosive. They have a very stingy defense that can cause a lot of turnovers and give Cutler a lot of help on offense with field position.
They face a very dangerous Packers team that has a lot of momentum leading up to this game, with wins over Philadelphia and Atlanta in the playoffs. Here are three things the Bears need to do so they don't fall victim to Green Bay like Atlanta and Philadelphia did.
We need to see the good Cutler come out against Green Bay.
Like I said earlier, there are two sides to Cutler. If the bad Cutler shows up, Chicago will find it very hard to beat Green Bay. If the good Cutler shows up, he will keep the Packers defense on the field and Rodgers off, giving them a good chance at victory. If he plays like he did in Seattle, the Bears will have a better chance of winning this game.
The O-Line needs to protect Cutler.
The Green Bay Packers have a very good pass rush that will keep fighting and is very hard to defend. If the Packers can get to Cutler and put pressure on him, he will make bad decisions, which will give Rogers great field position. If the Bears O-Line can give Cutler time in the pocket, he will find open receivers downfield. If he can find these open receivers, it will lead the Bears to more touchdowns and keep Rodgers off the field.
The Bears special teams need to perform.
The Bears have one of the best special team units in all of the NFL, featuring Devin Hester as one of the primary weapons. Hester is a game changer. He can affect the momentum of the game and give the Bears offense great field position. If he can return punts for big gains or touchdowns, the Bears will have a lot of momentum and field position in their favor.
Another thing that will be important for Chicago is for kicker Robbie Gould to make his field goals. Green Bay has lost all of their games by less than a touchdown, so if Gould can make field goals, it will be an important factor to a Chicago Bears victory.
Who will prevail in this tough NFC North matchup? Will Rodgers live up to the legacy that Favre left in Green Bay, or will Cutler show Chicago that he can be their franchise quarterback? Tune in this Sunday on Fox to find out.