Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Early Packers - Bears Week Insights

OK, the word "insights" in the headline might be a bit over-the-top. I mean, insights? Insights??? You know better than that.

However, here is what we do know: the Green Bay Packers will be playing the Chicago Bears this weekend for the final seed as a Wild Card team in the playoffs. Courtesy of the New Orleans Saints' victory over the Falcons in Atlanta last evening, that's the best that can be achieved. (Thanks, Atlanta! Where was that loss when we needed it, eh?) We also know that Da Bearz might have something to play for depending upon the outcome of tonight's game between the Eagles and ViQueens; they could be playing for a first-round bye. Not to mention, of course, the pleasure of keeping the Pack out of the playoffs. With a Bears' loss, however, it's a distinct possibility that the two teams could meet up again the following week in Chicago in the Wild Card game. Yowza!

As might be imagined, the Packer blogosphere and radio talk shows have been filled with much jubilation following the Packers' victory over the Giants on Sunday. And there are the usual and expected projections regarding the upcoming game versus Da Bearz. The opinion here is that, if the Packers team that shows up this weekend is the same one that showed up on Sunday, yes, they should come away with a win. While we also think that Da Bearz were winning with a lot of luck earlier in the season -- and admittedly, luck is part of the game -- they have become more solid as the season progressed. Their defense was and is solid, and their special teams very special courtesy of Devin Hester. The offense has also become more consistent with fewer 7-step drops by QB Jay Cutler. Offensive coordinator Mike Martz has Cutler operating more quickly, which has exposed him to fewer sack possibilities. The Bears' running game has also been solid with Matt Forte.

Yeah, Da Bearz put up a lot of points on the Jets on Sunday. But they gave up a lot, too. So does this set up as a shoot out for the Packers, or a defensive struggle? If the Packers are able to be as physical with Da Bearz as they were against the Giants they will get a victory. If the Packers are able to bottle up the running game and make Cutler get happy feet in the pocket, the defense could once again generate a number of turnovers. Aaron Rodgers and company should have a good day if they can again muster even a semblance of a rushing attack. The area that is always a concern with the Packers, however, and especially against a team like Da Bearz, is the special teams. That's the area that has to not make a mistake, or it could be the difference between a win and a loss...and a trip to the playoffs.

More as the week goes on...

Go Pack Go!!!