1.22.2011

Bears-Packers....... The X Factor



ARE YOU READY TO RUMBLE??!!

We at the Tap love our local brews, but sometimes you've gotta try out of state crafts. We can admit that Goose Island makes good beer, even if we do prefer New Glarus. Here's one more from Dave of BullsBearsCubsSoxHoxx.

It's NFC Championship Eve!! The biggest showdown in Bears vs. Packers history draws near!! Who is going to come out on top?? Who advances to big D??

We all know the Packers O is on fire and Aaron Rodgers will not only win the game but ascend straight to Packer heaven thereafter, Clay Matthews, Tramon Williams, B.J. Raji, Charles Woodson and company are primed after a huge performance in Atlanta. Conversely, The Bears D dominated Seattle for 3 1/2 quarters Sunday and when they aren't outsmarting themselves, ie. Matt Forte chucking ill advised passes, the Bears Offense can be dangerous as well, as Jay Cutler has shown of late.

Where the Bears don't match the Pack in offensive firepower they make up for with special teams. Devin Hester, Danieal Manning, Robbie Gould, Corey Graham not to mention long snapper Patrick Mannelly, are pivotal players on the top special teams unit in the league. This is "X" factor number one to a Bears victory Sunday. The Bears Special teams can turn the complexion of the game quickly on it's ear as Hester's punt return TD in September cemented the win over the Pack or as Corey Graham showed Sunday twice downing a Brad Maynard punt inside the 5 yard line.

XF2 is Tommie Harris, a pro bowl selection in 2006 but mostly a non impact since, injured and benched over and over for failure to produce, has suddenly resurfaced with 3 sacks in the last 2 games! If he can continue to apply pressure from the nose tackle spot this frees up Julius Peppers and Israel Idonije ever so slightly and greatly increases the Bears chances of getting to the nimble Aaron Rodgers, a huge key to slowing the mighty Pack attack.

XF3 for Chicago is playoff experience, not to mention there is still a sizeable core left from the Bears 2006 run, head coach, Lovie Smith has been to and won an NFC championship game before. This may be a small intangible as McCarthy has been to and lost 23-20 to the Giants , but in the end knowing how to close out a close game may clinch the trip to Dallas. McCarthy has shown on at least two occassions this past season of making very poor clock decisions with under 2 minutes left.

XF4, home field advantage; There is a huge difference between Atlanta's delightfully smooth next turf running track and climate controlled environment and the horrendous condition of the "grass" and howling winds in Soldier Field. Having seen it up close last Sunday, I can attest the footing is tenuous at best with chunks of turf torn loose on every play. It's much closer to a litter box than a field! This will definitely slow both teams passing games.

Lastly XF5 is Bears kicker Robbie "good as" Gould. Not only is Robbie the league leader in all time accuracy, 86% , but he knows first hand how to handle the unstable conditions in Soldier Field better than all others. If it comes down to a field goal late in the game,Robbie Gould is the guy you want kicking for your side!

To be fair, I will present the X factors for Green Bay. These hinge more on weaknesses than strengths for the Pack.

XF Number One; for the Bears to win we need red hot cornerback Tramon Williams to cool off!! The Bears need to find a way to exploit the Packers backfield coverage by throwing in seams and for shorter yardage. Going deep on this guy has failed to produce! 3 playoff interceptions at key junctures are a very large reason the Pack has advanced to Soldier Field this week. The game saving endzone pick against Philly and another endzone grab just like it against the Falcons, not to forget the lightening quick momentum swing brought on by his 70 yard pick six just before halftime last week!! Additionally finding a way to limit Clay Matthews as well as B.J "big as a meat locker" Raji are the key to freeing up Jay Cutler and the Bears attack.

XF2 Packers special teams. As evidenced only last week the Packers kickoff coverage team is average at best, yielding a 102 yard return for a TD against Atlanta. Luckily the Bears are the best on the opposite side of the coin!! Please kick to Devin, feel free!!

Lastly, XF3 as previously mentioned clock management could count for alot if the score is tight late! Here's hoping McCarthy does another lousy job with the clock and his T.O. allottment!!

Overall these games rarely live up to the amount of hype pumped in beforehand. Most likely we will see a spirited battle. Someone unexpected, unmentioned, will play the game of their lives influencing the outcome. The Packers O will be less potent, the Bears D will have some slip ups but I also see Devin Hester coming through in crunch time while the Pack muffs an extra point along the way.....Bears win 24-23!! Hello Superbowl!! LET'S GO BEARS!!!! I will be counting the minutes until 2 o'clock Sunday!! Dave Kuhlman dave@onyerleft.com

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