So, if you follow me on Twitter or Facebook (or in life -- please stop stalking me, by the way), then you got a pretty good idea that I'm what people call a Chicago Bears fans. You'd also have likely read or heard several of my comments about a little game being played today called the NFC Championship. A game where the winner is not only declared the NFC champion, but they also get to fly down to Dallas. And why would they want to fly to Dallas? Well, so they can play this fun game called the Super Bowl. You've might of heard of it before. It's played on TV and few several million or so people watch it every year, and pizza and wing joints leap for glee at the plethora of said foods that are purchased and devoured. A happy day for everyone, but we aren't at Super Bowl day yet. No, we are at NFC Championship day (and AFC Championship day too, but Bears aren't in that one). It is a rather big deal too, as I believe I've sort of already explained (psst. . . winning means you get to go to the even bigger deal thingy). It is an extra big deal for me because my all time favourite team is playing in this championship game, and just so happen to be playing against their biggest and longest rivals, the Green Bay Packers.
As a Bears fan, I am obligated to detest the Packers, just as any Packers fan must despise the Bears. This is arguable the biggest rivalry in NFL history, and these two teams have played against each other more than any other team in NFL history. Though they haven't met each other in many play off games, and this will arguable be one of their biggest match up ever. I know that there isn't a Packers fan or Bears fan that would have it any other way. Nothing is sweeter than winning a championship game against your most storied rival. It makes today's championship that more exciting and intense.
The 'experts' are putting a lot of their picks in for the Packers. Green Bay has been really hot these last few weeks, especially after their huge win over the number one seeded Atlanta Falcons. They definitely have the momentum, especially with their defense being really hot and quarterback Aaron Rodgers playing his best ball ever. The Bears have the home advantage this weekend for a reason, and they are the division champions. This is a Bears team that have grown and become stronger as their season has progressed. It is also a team that a lot of people didn't really believe had a decent shot this season, yet they're now in the NFC championship as the home team. The Bears have had the odds against them for this entire season and have excelled despite that.
Today's game should be a great one. Green Bay has been surging through the competition ever since clinching their play off spot by beating the Bears in Week 17. This not only started the Packers on the hot streak, but it also meant the Bears were going into the play offs with a loss. Luckily, Bears were able to bounce back from that and get the big win over the Seattle Seahawks last weekend. For the most part, the Bears looked like a really strong team last weekend as they were able to shut down Seattle's defense and the offensive line protected Cutler so that he could work his magic. The one scary thing is that the Bears got too relaxed in the final quarter and allowed the Seahawks to score several points (thus the final score made the game sound much closer than it ever was). You could argue that it didn't matter too much because Bears had it won. It definitely showed signs of a team that starts to let their guard down (which is odd since the Bears defense is known as a team that is about shutting down the opposition's offense once Bears get the lead). I have a feeling that this same attitude may have been what caused Green Bay to beat them back in Week 17 too. The Bears had already clinched their spot, and thus didn't have the same fire in that game. The Bear definitely can't afford any similar attitude in a game against such red hot offense.
I mentioned that Bears lost to Packers in the regular season, but they also beat the Packers earlier in the year. Today would be considered the big rubber match. The previous two games where very close and very low scoring. I still believe today's game will be very close, but I don't see it being as low scoring. I also think both teams have changed a lot since both meetings (especially the first game, since then the Bears have improved on their offensive line immensely). This game will hinge a lot on the performance of the quarterbacks and how the opposing teams defensive line will be able to rattle them. Cutler is a strong QB who has proven to be a little inconsistent from game to game. But I really think he will be able to shine as long as the offensive line can protect him and not allow him to feel too pressured. On both sides, you are really looking at extremely strong defensive teams, and both sides are going to bring loads of pressure to the offense. The other big part of the game is going to be Green Bay Packers' punter Tim Masthay kicking to Chicago Bears' punt returner Devin Hester. Hester has been an amazing returner this season and got some huge yards. It will be matter of where the punter can kick the ball in order to try to stop Hester. I think Hester has a good chance of putting the Bears in some good offensive positions as long as he can catch the ball in optimal spots (which Packers obviously would like to avoid). As you can see, there is going to be multiple factors in how this game plays out (which is the main reason they actually play the game first rather than just deciding who advances on stats and past performances).
I'm predicting the Bears, but I am positive nobody would be shocked by that. I really do believe this is a game that could truly go either way and has great potential for being a NFC championship classic. I am looking forward to some good football (but it will be much better if it is won by the good guys -- the Bears).
There is also an AFC Championship game between the New York Jets and the Pittsburgh Steelers. A match up that I am completely shocked by. I was not expecting the Jets to even get out of the wild card round, and was even more shocked when they toppled the New England Patriots, who I think where the clear favourites to win the whole thing before taking an early exit. I'd love the Jets to get to the Super Bowl because it'd be another upset, but this time I believe Steelers will stop them. Though I also think the Bears would have a better chance at beating the Jets than the Steelers, which would be another reason to root for the Jets.
Yeah, that was a much shorter preview for the second game, but what can I say, I warned you it would be bias. I am a Bears fan, and that is the main event match up today for me. It should be a great day of excellent football and I encourage you all to enjoy a few hours of action. If you decide to ignore that recommendation, then I'm sure this blog will at least reveal the results of the NFC Championship (either by unapologetic gloating or unabashed moaning -- either should be entertaining, I'm sure).
Of course, I can only end this post will two words.