Saturday, September 24, 2011

Packers vs. Bears: this is what it's all about

OK, actually, it's not what it's all about. But a cliche sounded appropriate at the moment. It's actually all about winning Super Bowl Championships. But beating Da Bearz is a close second for most Green Bay Packers fans. As we know, this is the NFL’s oldest rivalry, and Sunday's game marks Game No. 184 in the all-time series. The season series has been split two of the past three years (the Pack swept Da Bearz in 2009).

And so, here we are. It's the first meeting of the 2011 season with the guys from south of the border, and in their home stadium. In fact, it's the first time in the history of the series that the teams will meet in Chicago in the month of September in consecutive seasons. How's that for some trivia for you?

I had the misfortune of being at last year's penalty and turnover-laden game giveaway (from the Packers' standpoint, that is) at Soldier Field. The Pack will not do that again. But is there a chance that the defense will add to their ugly 500-yards-plus per game average so far this season? Doubtful, although everyone expects Da Bearz to go after Nick Collins' replacement, Charlie Peprah. Be assured, the Pack will make whatever adjustments they need to to handle Da Bearz. Jay Cutler is no Drew Brees, nor Cam Newton. At least, he isn't if the Packers get some pressure on him. Cutler's offensive line can be beat, and the Packers better figure out a way to take advantage of that situation. It is a key to the game, just as it was last week when the Saints had their way with that line.

Cutler's M.O. is that if he gets rattled he starts flinging the ball around. Interceptions are the rule of the day. Combine that with Da Bearz offensive coordinator Mike Martz's 5 and 7-step drop calls for his QB, and Cutler should be under pressure all day long. The loss of rookie tackle Gabe Carimi doesn't help an already weak offensive line situation.

But what about the other side of the ball for Da Bearz? As always, that's where they usually win their games. The defense always plays tough and they can and do generate turnovers. Those turnovers -- and special teams plays -- are usually what keeps Da Bearz in the game. Against lesser opponents, it's often what helps them win games.

But the Packers are not a lesser opponent. The Packers are the better team. And it's not just this writer who says so. The oddsmakers, at the time of this writing, have established the Pack as 4-point favorites, with 45.5 points set as the over/under for the betting fan.

As long-time fans of either of these two teams know very well, these games are always slugfests. It often comes down to which team makes fewer mistakes. The Packers should win this game. If they don't beat themselves, they will.

I'm calling this one 24-20 Packers. Go Pack Go!!!

And now for something completely different...
Just in case regular readers are curious, I will try to do a follow up of the game. But over the course of the next two weeks, I will likely be posting little if at all. I may Tweet on occasion (so be sure to follow me by clicking the link in the righthand column if you wish to do so). But I'll basically be incommunicado (look it up) because of other commitments. Hope to get back in the saddle for the Oct. 9 Sunday night game at Atlanta.

Until then, say it with me: it's great to be a Packer fan!