Saturday, January 22, 2011

Packers vs. Da Bearz Championship Preview and Prediction

This time tomorrow, we will know the outcome of the NFC Championship Game between our beloved Green Bay Packers and...those other! No, beat them already. Umm...Falcons! No, beat them too. Let's see...I knew it a moment ago...oh yeah...the Chicago Bears. And, yes, the Pack will beat them, too. Shocked, I know, to see yours truly predicting that.

But what else can I do? The Packers are favored. Seemingly at least two-thirds of all the pundits out there are picking the Pack. But are these the only reasons? No. I'm picking the Packers to beat Da Bearz because they are, as ESPN's Jim Rome stated on his show yesterday, not only the hottest team but also the better team.

Granted, the best team doesn't always win. Enough instances of that exist across the league. And, make no mistake, Da Bears are a tough match up. These games always are a slugfest. They have some great players. And it's close enough where an ill-timed penalty, turnover or blown assignment -- or, dare I say, a shanked field goal attempt -- could be the difference in the final outcome. We just hope more of those mistakes occur on Chicago's side of things than on the Packers'.

The Packers are confident and are playing championship calibre football. Da Bearz are probably feeling a bit disrespected and will likely want to take out some of that frustration on the Pack. So it will likely be a tight game, if not throughout at least through the first half.

But if the Pack can get up early on Chicago, bottle up RB Matt Forte, and force Jay Cutler to win the game...that adds up to a win for the Pack.

I normally don't post my prediction until game day. I like to sleep on things and see how things look in the morning. But because many will be heading to the game or viewing parties then, I thought I'd post my prognostication a bit early...while still reserving the right to revise before the game, of course.

Jim Rome predicted the Packers to win 21-17. Peter King of Sports Illustrated picks the Pack 17-16. I think both of those scores for Da Bearz are in the ballpark, although I'm hoping the Pack's defense can hold Chicago to under 17, which they are completely capable of doing. I'm also hoping that the Pack's offense, particularly its running game, keeps opening things up for Aaron Rodgers and the receiving corps. It might not be the long downfield plays given the field and weather conditions. But dink and dunk will work just fine as well, and also not force the O-line into having to pass protect for those long dropbacks and long throws.

Given those assumptions, I'm taking the Packers 24-17 over Da Bearz.

Go Pack Go!!!

P.S. OK, there really wasn't much of a preview here, was there? But really, the whole week has been a preview, hasn't it? Good. Glad we cleared that up.