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

This was one of the oldest rivalries sorting itself out on Soldier Field, with Aaron Rodgers and his explosive wide receivers against the stalwart defense of the Chicago Bears, led by Brian Urlacher.  This was the ultimate rubber-band match for these two rivals this season — whoever wins goes to the Super Bowl.  The Chicago Bears won in week 3 of the regular season with a 20-17 score and lost in week 17 against the Green Bay Packers 10-3.  The Bears intended on shutting out the Packers from arriving into the playoffs by using their starters in that last game, but they couldn’t stop the fourth quarter drive against Aaron Rodgers.  It’s Lovie Smith vs. Mike McCarthy, Julius Peppers and Brian Urlacher vs. Aaron Rodgers and Greg Jennings and Jay Cutler vs. Clay Matthews…

Now here comes the NFC Conference playoffs and its analysis:

  • Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers started off early in the first quarter with passes to Jordy Nelson, Greg Jennings and James Starks. And an amazing Rodgers’ 1-yard rush for a touchdown as a first strike against the Chicago Bears.
  • Bears running back Matt Forte‘s early first quarter 24-yard reception from quarterback Jay Cutler was stunning.
  • The almost-close safety late first quarter to Jay Cutler was avoided barely with a jump pass to Matt Forte (that was dropped).  That was too close for comfort for the Bears and their fans.
  • James Starks got his first NFL career touchdown from 4-yards out, and it extended the lead to 14-0 for the Packers.
  • Bad Jay Cutler finally showed up in this critical game with a quarterback rating of 34.1 with only 80 yards passing and an interception into the half.  Unfortunately, Bad Jay Cutler additionally was replaced with backup Todd Collins after the half. The game for the Bears started to spiral downwards afterwards.
  • Green Bay Packers had 103 total yards rushing between Aaron Rodgers, James Starks and Brandon Jackson into the half.  The Packers established a running threat albeit a bit unconventionally with Rodgers in the equation, but it was first assisted by the receiving duo of Greg Jennings and Jordy Nelson with 115 yards combined into the half.
  • Near the end of the fourth quarter, the interception from Lance Briggs of the Chicago Bears from a pass intended for Packers wide receiver Donald Driver was answered with an interception from Sam Shields with a pass intended to Johnny Knox.
  • Brian Urlacher’s 39-yard  interception return of Aaron Rodgers could not swing the momentum into the Bears favor as the offense sputtered under Todd Collins.
  • Then in came Caleb Hanie, the third option at quarterback for the Bears late third quarter with both an injured Jay Cutler and an anemic Todd Collins on the sidelines.
  • Caleb Hanie’s drive ended with Chester Taylor’s 1-yard touchdown to close the lead within a touchdown at 14-7.
  • BJ Raji’s late fourth quarter 18-yard interception on Caleb Hanie brought the score of 21-7.
  • Earl Bennett’s 35-yard pass for a touchdown kept the game interesting again at 21-14.
  • Sam Shields last interception of Caleb Hanie sealed the game.

The explosive Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers offense fought the Chicago Bears at Soldiers Field and came out with a 21-7 win. The arrival of Bad (and Injured) Jay Cutler and Bad Todd Collins did not go so well for the Chicago Bears, despite the Bears defense stepping up at times. Good Caleb Hanie brought life to this Bears team, although the last two minutes closed the game for the Bears.  Surprisingly, Good Caleb Hanie had a better quarterback rating at 88.1 compared to Aaron Rodgers 55.4.

Now the Green Bay Packers are off to the Super Bowl against their opponent to be determined later tonight, and the Chicago Bears may have found a starting quarterback for their next season over Jay Cutler. Coach Lovie Smith and the Bears are now regretting not stopping the Green Bay Packers in their last game of the regular season, as the Packers ended theirs in the post-season.

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Seattle Seahawks vs. Chicago Bears: NFC Divisional Pre-Game Analysis

The Seattle Seahawks, the Cinderella team of this playoff season, conquered the New Orleans Saints in the wild card playoffs, but this time, they face a different opponent.  Whereas the New Orleans Saints defense could be battered by the Seahawk’s Marshawn Lynch, the Chicago Bears defense with Brian Urlacher and Lance Briggs won’t be that easy.  However, the Good and the Bad Jay Cutler could pose interesting results, as well as the Good and Bad Matt Hasselbeck with Charlie Whitehurst peeking over his shoulder.

Quarterbacks

During the regular season, Chicago Bears Jay Cutler had 3,274 yards passing, 23 touchdowns, 16 interceptions and a 86.3 quarterback rating.  However, he’s a bit sporadic, sometimes doing better against the better defenses and sometimes doing a whole lot worse.  The Seattle Seahawks Matt Hasselbeck had 3,001 yards passing, 12 touchdowns, 17 interceptions and a decrepit 73.2 quarterback rating during the regular season.  However, he improved significantly against the New Orleans Saints with 272 yards passing, 4 touchdowns, 1 interception and a 113.0 quarterback rating.  However, this is a push right now, depending on which Cutler and Hasselbeck decide to show up, with the Seahawks gaining the slight edge due to their win over the Saints previously.  Hasselbeck’s morale should be high going against this defense but…

Wide Receivers

The Seattle Seahawks wide receivers Mike Williams and Ben Obomanu had a compiled total of 1,245 yards receiving, 6 touchdowns and averaged 14.0 yards per reception between the both of them during the regular season.  In the post-season, Mike Williams is currently ranked 7th with 68 yards and a touchdown to his name. On the other hand, the Bears receiver Johnny Knox had 960 yards receiving, 5 touchdowns and averaged 18.8 yards per reception during the regular season. His partner Earl Bennett had 561 yards receiving, 3 touchdowns and averaged 12.2 yards per reception.  Additionally, the Bears have their last and most dangerous weapon, Matt Forte, who has 547 yards, 3 touchdowns and averaged 10.7 yards per reception.  The Bears get the edge with their variety of weapons at their disposal.

Running Backs

Intriguing setup given how Marshawn Lynch of the Seahawks detonated against the Saints last game, but Seattle had problems stopping the run, as they ranked 21st during the regular season.  The Seattle Seahawks Marshawn Lynch had 737 yards rushing, 6 touchdowns and averaged 3.6 yards per carry during the regular season.  He was ranked 28th during the regular season, but he is currently ranked 1st in the post-season.  On the other hand, Matt Forte of the Bears had 1,069 yards rushing, 6 touchdowns and averaged 4.5 yards per reception.  He was ranked 15th in terms of rushing yardage, far better than Marshawn Lynch.  The Bears get the edge in this one, as Forte is more of a more effective running back than Lynch.

Tight Ends

The Seahawks tight end John Carlson had 318 yards, 1 touchdown and averaged 10.3 yards per reception during the regular season.  In the post-season game against the New Orleans Saints, he had 17 yards, 2 touchdowns and averaged 5.7 yards per reception. On the other side of the ball, the Bears tight end Greg Olsen has 404 yards, 5 touchdowns and averaged 9.9 yards per reception.   Both tight ends should be leaned on this game, but given the Bears rush ability, John Carlson and the Seahawks get the edge.

Defenses

During the regular season, the Seattle Seahawks defense was ranked 27th against the pass, 21st against the rush and overall, 27th in the league. On the other hand, the Chicago Bears defense was ranked 2oth against the pass, 2nd against the run and 9th overall.  Dominating Bears linebacker Brian Urlacher was 11th in terms of tackles overall with 125, and both Bears cornerback Charles Tillman and safety Chris Harris were ranked 10th in interceptions overall with 5 each.  However, going in Seattle’s favor is that they did upset the New Orleans defense that was ranked 4th during the regular season. It’s hard to imagine lightning striking twice for this Cinderella team, but anything is possible this season.  By the numbers, the Chicago Bears dominate the edge in terms of talent and statistics, but the Seahawks have shown they can disrupt that.

Coaches/Intangibles

Seattle Seahawks coach Pete Carroll has shown that he is capable of leashing a potent offensive attack, but whether he can keep it up against the Chicago Bears defense, that remains to be seen.  Considering how the defense contained Green Bay Packers and Aaron Rodgers much of their last regular season game, it does not bode well for Matt Hasselbeck nor the Seahawks offense this time around. Chicago Bears coach Lovie Smith has relied on the traditional Bears game — grind the ball with the running back Matt Forte and hit them hard with the defense led by Brian Urlacher.  Lovie Smith and the Bears get a moderate edge in terms of weapons available to him, but for both coaches, it depends on which quarterback decides to show up.  Both quarterbacks have been less than impressive generally the regular season.

The Edge

The edge goes to the Chicago Bears 21-10 by the numbers.   This should become a ground-based, in-the-trenches kind of game.  However, week 6 has shown that whoever has the best ground game can win this.  In that week of the regular season, Justin Forsett of the Seahawks dominated the game, but this is a different Chicago Bears team that hasn’t become as pass-happy as before.  Realistically, it could potentially be a fairly close game again, similar to week 6: 20-17 Bears.