The Chicago Bears (11-5) will meet the Green Bay Packers (10-6) in the NFC Championship Playoff game Sunday at 3:00 PM on Fox. The Bears will be the home team with the game at Soldier Field, but it may not be much of an advantage since "A-Rod" Aaron Rodgers (312-475, 3,922 yards, 28 TDs, 11 Int.) and the Packers are riding high off a superb 48-21 whipping of the Atlanta Falcons.
Since the Packers also eliminated the Philadelphia Eagles in the Wild Card Playoff (21-16), Rodgers is hands down the best rushing quarterback left in the playoff mix. Rodgers was the team's third leading rusher during the regular season with 356 yards and 4 touchdowns on 64 attempts. The Packers are also 5th in passing yards per game on offense on the season. Rodgers missed a 4,000 yard season by just 78 yards this year despite missing some playing action, and he has a 134.5 rating for the playoffs. He's thrown 6 touchdowns in the post-season, completed 77.8 percent of his playoff passes, and is averaging 3.4 yards rushing with a touchdown.
Bears QB Jay Cutler (261-432, 3,274 yards, 23 TDs, 6 Int.) led his team to the division lead this year and helped the Bears romp over the Seattle Seahawks last week 35-24. Cutler completed just over 50 percent of his passes in that game and could give Rodgers a real "run" for his money since he had two rushing touchdowns and a 5.4 rushing average in that game. He wound up one yard behind his second leading playoff rusher Chester Taylor at the end of the game. Leading Rusher Matt Forte ran for 80 yards last week but never scored.
The problem for Cutler this week is that he'll be facing a much better defense this time. Green Bay's Charles Woodson (92 tackles, 2 sacks, 5 forced fumbles, 2 INT, TD) and the rest of the secondary will give Cutler fits. Green Bay linebackers Clay Matthews (60 tackles, 13.5 sacks, 2 forced fumbles, 1 Int, TD) and Desmond Bishop (103 tackles, 3 sacks, 2 forced fumbles, 1 Interception, TD) won't let Cutler break any big runs this time out. Cutler leads the league in times sacked (52), and Defensive End Cullen Jenkins (18 tackles, 7 sacks) will be looking to put him on the turf every down. Green Bay's defense is a perfect complement to the formidable offense, and Cutler simply isn't ready for it.
For the Bears to even compete in this game their own defense will have to rise to the occasion along with their special teams. The Bears got only two sacks last week against a team with the worst record among playoffs team this year. The Seattle Seahawks also kept Devin Hester (40 rec, 475 yards, 4 TDs, 33 punt returns, 3 TDs, 12 kick returns, 427 yards) to just 6 kick return yards and a 15 yard punt return average. Hester and the defense will both have to put up stellar numbers this week to give their team a chance to win and get to the Super Bowl.
On paper, Green Bay absolutely demolishes the Bears this time out despite only narrowly edging them out in week 17 (10-3). If the Bears are going to give it an "any given Sunday" effort and pull off the upset, every aspect of their game will have to be perfect. Unfortunately for them, Green Bay won't have to attain the same level of perfection to come away with their own win. They will just have to play tough and fight to the final whistle, and they should come out on top by two scores or more.