Green Bay Packers vs. Chicago Bears: NFC Championship Pre-Game Analysis

This is one of these games that have been going on a spin-cycle this season.  The Chicago Bears began their starters during their last regular season game against the potent Green Bay Packers, but they could not finish the job.  Now their demon has come back another time, inspired by the destruction of their wild card opponent Philadelphia Eagles and their divisional opponent Atlanta Falcons.  Both the Eagles and Falcons were ranked higher than the Packers coming into the playoffs, yet both had their wings clipped.  The Good Jay Cutler, on the other hand, methodically handled the football in their game with the running game of Matt Forte against the Seattle Seahawks, but it was not quite as impressive showing as the Packers had against the Falcons during the same weekend.

Now to the pre-game analysis:

Quarterbacks

The Green Bay Packers Aaron Rodgers has been amazing so far in the playoffs. He currently leads all the quarterbacks in the playoffs with a 134.5 quarterback rating on 546 yards passing and 6 touchdowns.  In the regular season, he had a 101.2 quarterback rating on 3,922 yards passing, 28 touchdowns and 11 interceptions.  Opposite of him, the Chicago Bears Jay Cutler is currently second overall into the playoffs with 111.3 quarterback rating on 274 yards passing and 2 touchdowns.  In the regular season, however, he had a 86.3 quarterback rating on 3,274 yards passing, 23 touchdowns and 16 interceptions.  Both quarterbacks have improved into the playoffs, but the Packers Rodgers has been more consistent.  The edge goes to the Rodgers and the Packers by a moderate margin.

Running Backs

This hasn’t been the best post-season for much of the running backs, particularly since they have been facing stiff defenses.  The Packers running backs James Starks and Brandon Jackson have been contributing to their running game.  James Starks currently leads the playoffs running backs in terms of rushing yardage at 189 and averaging 3.9 yards per carry, but he has no rushing touchdowns. During the regular season, he only had 101 yards, averaged 3.5 yards per carry and no touchdowns.  His partner Brandon Jackson had 23 yards rushing, 5.8 yards per carry and no touchdowns in the post-season.  During the regular season, he had 703 yards rushing, averaged 3.7 yards per carry and 3 touchdowns.  On the opposite side of the ball, Matt Forte is currently 7th in rushing yardage at 80 yards and averaging 3.2 yards per carry in the post-season.  In the regular season, he had 1,069 yards rushing, 6 touchdowns and averaged 4.5 yards per carry.  James Starks and the Packers get a slight edge in this game as they’ve been more effective rushing in the post-season, but Matt Forte still remains a force in the playoffs. 

Wide Receivers

The Packers wide receiver combination of Greg Jennings and Donald Driver have been effective in the playoffs.  Greg Jennings is currently 9th in terms of receiving yardage at 109 and averaging 12.1 yards per reception; and Donald Driver is currently ranked 3rd at 132 yards and averaging 12.0 yards per reception.  During the regular season, he had 1,265 yards receiving, 12 touchdowns and averaged 16.6 yards per reception.  Additionally, he was ranked 4th overall in terms of receiving yardage during the regular season.  Comparatively, the Chicago Bears wide receiver Johnny Knox is currently 35th in the playoffs in terms of receiving yards at 48 yards and 12.0 yards per reception.  During the regular season, he had 960 yards receiving, 5 touchdowns and averaged 18.8 yards per reception. His compatriot Earl Bennett in the post-season only has 13 yards receiving.  During the regular season, he was more effective at 561 yards receiving, 3 touchdowns and averaged 12.2 yards per reception. The receiving corps of the Green Bay Packers get the edge.

Tight Ends

The Packers tight end Donald Lee so far has no receptions during the post-season.  During the regular season, he only had 73 yards receiving, 3 touchdowns and averaged 6.6 yards per reception.  Meanwhile, the Chicago Bears tight end Greg Olsen has been infinitely better.  In the post-season, he is currently ranked 5th in receiving yardage at 113, averaging 37.7 yards per reception and a touchdown.  Compared to his regular season numbers, he had 404 yards receiving, 5 touchdowns and averaged 9.9 yards per reception.  The Chicago Bears get the edge for this one by a wide margin.

Defenses

During the regular season, the Green Bay Packers defense was ranked 5th overall, and they were 5th against the pass and 18th against the run. Linebacker Clay Matthews made his mark in the regular season as he was ranked 4th overall and had 13.5 sacks.  In the post-season, he has improved to 3rd overall at 3.0 sacks.  Cornerback Charles Woodson has been effective during the post-season as he is ranked 7th in tackles at 12. His teammate Tramon Williams currently leads in interceptions in the post-season at 3, and he has become a playmaker for the Packers defense. The Chicago Bears defense, led by Brian Urlacher, was effective during the regular season. Their defense was ranked 20th against the pass and 2nd against the run and ranked 9th overall. Bears tackle Tommie Harris is currently ranked 4th in sacks at 2.0, but Brian Urlacher is currently ranked 32nd in tackles at 7.  The Packers defense gets the edge in this matchup, as they have more playmakers that have been effective in the playoffs.

Coaches/Intangibles

Packers head coach Mike McCarthy has been through some tough opponents in the playoffs so far — the Philadelphia Eagles, the Atlanta Falcons and the last game against the Chicago Bears to get into the playoffs. He has had to make various adjustments through each game, running against the Eagles and passing against the Falcons.  He has been adaptable so far, although he still relies on Aaron Rodgers’ arm to ultimately win the game. On the opposite side of the ball, head coach Lovie Smith had to rely on balance as well. His reliance on the run has been highly dependent on whether Jay Cutler has been an accurate passer, and so far, he has. Jay Cutler has leaned on tight end Greg Olsen for much of success so far.  Mike McCarthy and the Packers get the slight edge in terms of their path in the playoffs, and they demonstrated more effectiveness against stronger opponents.

The Edge

The edge goes to the Packers 20-17, but it is highly dependent on if the Good Jay Cutler remains on the field. The Packers defense, however, should hold against the Bears offense.


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