NFC Championship: Bears vs. Packers
REASONS FOR OPTIMISM
Mike McCarthy is on a roll
Packers coach Mike McCarthy has been a punching bag for overwrought Packers fans for years because of his play-calling and game-management skills. He’s still prone to a shaky decision — not going for points at the end of the first half against Philly comes to mind — but McCarthy is on fire as a play-caller.
McCarthy’s hot streak really started in a loss. He dialed up the plays for backup quarterback Matt Flynn in a near-upset in Foxborough. Defenses have been guessing ever since and they rarely guess right.
Bears offensive line coming together
Chicago will want to shorten the game Sunday with a lot of runs by Matt Forte and Chester Taylor. If the Packers have a weakness, they could be a little soft up the middle against the run. Expect the Bears to find more success on the ground than Atlanta did.
CAUSES FOR CONCERNFamiliarity may help Bears defense
It’s hard to find many causes for concern for the Packers with the way Aaron Rodgers is playing, but I’ll try: The Bears' defense clearly gives him problems.
The Packers only scored 24 points in two games against Chicago. They averaged only 62 yards on the groun in those games. It’s going to be tough sledding for James Starks in Chicago and it’s hard to imagine the Packers truly having “balance” on offense. Green Bay’s running backs only averaged three yards-per-carry against Atlanta. The Bears defense know how to limit big passing plays.
The nation grieved for those hurt, killed and affected by the Boston Marathon bombings. After one of the suspects was caught on Friday — following a day-long lockdown and manhunt — sports returned to Boston over the weekend.
Will Bad Jay show up?
Jay Cutler is going to throw a handful of “loose” passes every game. The Seahawks dropped Cutler’s brain farts in the divisional round, but Cutler can’t expect to be so lucky against the Packers.
Green Bay’s secondary is full of cornerbacks who know how to make plays on the ball. More importantly, defensive coordinator Dom Capers’ crew is capable of confusing Cutler.
Cutler’s mistakes aren’t usually physical. He’s one of the league's most accurate quarterbacks, but doesn’t always see the field before he throws. The Packers will try to show him different looks in hopes of making Bad Jay come out early and often.
CSN: Brian Urlacher, who played 13 seasons for the Bears, announced his retirement from football Wenesday on his personal twitter account.
2013 SNF Schedule
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