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Bears Thu Jan 20 2011

Footballic Ramblings: All The Marbles

Footballic_Ramblings2.jpg Whatever blustery and hyperbolic rhetoric may have been spat by sports pundits across the nation this week will have been forgotten by Sunday evening. The new trajectory of fate will have set its course for both the Bears and Packers. One sinking to the bitterness of an off season starting a game too soon and the other rocketing towards the Footballic Ragnarok. The table is set, Soldier Field's abysmal sod isn't getting any better and the cold, steely winds of Michigan are waiting to chill fan and player alike.

When The Bears Have The Ball

Green Bay's defense is devastating. They're second in points allowed (an even 15 per game, merely 0.5 behind the league leading Steelers defense); and, no surprise here, are ranked #2 in overall defense --in fact, all four remaining teams: Bears, Jets, Packers, Steelers are all in the top-six. Since the playoffs began and Green Bay began its reenactment of General Sherman's March to the Sea, the Pack defense has been downright brutal. In two successive road games, they have methodically --with malice and forethought-- shellacked the NFL's third-highest scoring offense (Philly, averaged 27.4, scored 16 against GB) and fifth-highest scoring offense (Atlanta, averaged 25.9, scored 21 against GB). Green Bay's one glaring weakness in the regular season: stopping the run, has been rectified in the Playoffs. Between the two teams they combined for under 140 rushing yards.

What can we expect from Mike Martz's kooky kitchen of offensive obscura and ephemera? Tough to say. Last week the Bears offense went run-wacky with 45 called rushes. It worked against Seattle, but, well, we all know the Seahawks aren't the Packers. Will we see Martz using the run to set-up the pass, will it matter? Green Bay's always opportunistic secondary will be looking for the errant Cutler pass to #OMG #PICK6 et cetera. Tramon Williams has, in the second half of the season, emerged as very capable defender. His emergence is now forcing opposing QBs to make the unpleasant choice of throwing to Williams, Charles Woodson or risking a receivers life/limb by throwing into the middle of the field where human K9 units, AJ Hawk and Clay Matthews lurk like Dobermans prowling a junk yard. Speaking of the troglodytic Matthews, he's not just for clobbering receivers and running backs. Nay, the hybrid "endbacker" is more and more often lining up on the line and bull rushing unabated until his helmet is squarely driving into a quarterback's spine. The man has been a beast this season, racking up 14 sacks and, of course, Jay Cutler loves to get sacked (52 times this season).

When The Packers Have The Ball

Aaron Rodgers along with the suddenly struttin running back, James Starks, have been working a clinic in the post-season. Treating opposing defenses like a speed bag. Rodgers went "Berserker" on Atlanta last week. Dude hung 366 yards, went 31-36, passed for two Tuddies and ran in for another six-pointer before dropping his trademark:

RODGERSBELT.gif

So, yeah, if that shows up against Chicago. Sorry, season over Bears fans. Likely it won't. Chicago's defense, has for the most part been far too consistent to allow for that. (I'm being nice and ignoring the pointgasms the Bears gave up to the Patriots and Jets.) An absolute must-do match-up nightmare is siccing Julius Peppers on Chad Clifton (Green Bay's meh left tackle) and the absolutely awful Bryan Bulaga. Bulaga has been a pox on the House of Lambeau all season long. Constantly getting called for false-starts and being as effective as a rotating door in stopping defensive ends. Peppers absolutely can destroy either of the Packers' tackles from either side and GB will likely be forced to double team. When opposing teams double team Peppers, it's a boon for the rest of the defensive line. This I will emphasize and repeat constantly. It's very effective and obvious.

This is what games in January should be, folks. Franchises that crawled out of the NFL's primordial ooze, biting wind chills, the orange, blue, green and gold collisions, cold, filthy mud staining uniforms. This is for a berth in the Super Bowl. Win or lose, pray the Windy City doesn't burn.

 
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