The payoff to the playoff is here. The Packers and Bears meet for the 181st time Sunday at Lambeau, it's the first time Chicago has ever closed a regular season in Green Bay and it's also the first time since Curley and Papa Bear started these teams that they meet when each has at least 9 victories. The Packers need 10 to enter the post-season party, Chicago is already there and the intensity in this game should be fun to watch. The Bears defeated the Packers in week 3, 20-17 on Robbie Gould's chip shot field goal with :04 to play, coming 2 minutes after James Jones fumbled near the midfield sideline. It was horrible day for the Packers with a franchise record 18 penalties that wiped out one touchdown and a pair of potential game clinching interceptions. Both teams are coming off big wins at home, Green Bay 45-17 over the Giants, Chicago a 38-34 victory over the other Meadowlands tennants, the Jets. In short, the keys to the game from the Packer perspective is to stay patient against the cover 2 Bears defense, protect the football at all costs, Chicago is almost over exhuberant to create takeaways. If Green Bay can run at all, it will keep the cover 2 shell pulled closer to the line of scrimmage and create more space for the wide receivers. Defensively, keeping Matt Forte in check will put the ball more often in Jay Cutler's hands and while he's improved dramatically in year 2 in Chicago under Mike Martz, a couple of good licks by the pass rush can frustrate him and lead to picks for the Packer secondary who feasted on Eli Manning last week with 4 interceptions. Finally on special teams, Devin Hester can not be allowed to break a return as he did in Solider Field in October. Easier said than done but I don't think the Packers will just kick away from him. Both Tim Masthay and Mason Crosby will mix up directional kicks and the cover teams have to play their best game. I've had the privalege of covering more than one third of the games in the NFL's oldest and what I still consider the best rivalry, can't wait for the latest chapter to be written Sunday.
Click on the link below to hear what the players have to say about Sunday's matchup.