Green Bay Packers (12-6 SU, 11-7 ATS) vs. Chicago Bears (12-5 SU,
10-6-1 ATS), NFC Championship Game, 3:00 p.m. EST, Sunday, January
23, 2011, Soldier Field, Chicago, Ill., TV: FOX
by Badger of Predictem.com
Betting Odds: GB -3/CHI +3
Over/Under Total: 44
The oldest rivalry in the National Football League will write another
memorable chapter, this time for the right to represent the NFC in
Super Bowl 45, when the Green Bay Packers and Chicago Bears strap it
up for another grudge match in the NFC Championship Game at Soldier
Field in Chicago this Sunday.
Most of the talking heads on television and radio are still buzzing about the performance that quarterback Aaron Rodgers and the Packers
put together in the Divisional round last Saturday, laying a massive,
48-21, beatdown to the top-seeded Atlanta Falcons in the Georgia
Dome. Except for a fumble on their opening possession, the Packers
dominated the Falcons defense with nearly 500 yards of total offense
and zero punts en route to the 27-point victory on the road.
But not to be slighted, the Bears put together an equally impressive
performance against Seattle in their Divisional round game Sunday,
winning 35-24. The Seahawks scored a couple of late touchdowns to
make the final score look a lot closer than the game actually was on
the field, as quarterback Jay Cutler and the Bears ran out to a 28-0
lead by the end of the third quarter and then coasted to the big
Both victories over the weekend set up a third game between the NFC
North rivals, a classic rubber match between the Packers and Bears
that will earn the victor a spot in the Super Bowl in Cowboys Stadium
and huge bragging rights in an already intense border rivalry.
Oddsmakers opened the game with the Packers as 3-point favorites on
the road in Soldier Field, a point spread that is sure to be used as
motivation in the Bears locker room in a They think were the
underdogs in our own house type of anthem during the practice week.
The short-memory public is already all over the Packers at the
window, moving the number up to 3.5-points at most of the sportsbooks
in Las Vegas and at a few of the offshore sportsbooks on the Web.
The over/under total opened at 44 and has dropped to 43.5 at a large
majority of the sportsbooks taking total wagers. There are still a
few online books (SIA, Sportsbook) that are listing
their number at 44, so theres still plenty of time for the total to
move since the weather forecast calls for cold and breezy conditions
(low-20s with 10-18 mph winds) on the 6-day planner.
Everyone and their brother saw exactly what the Packers offense and
Rodgers can bring to the table last week against Atlanta. While it
wasnt quite a perfect performance (only 96 yards rushing, one
fumble), its going to be very hard for Rodgers and the Packers to
duplicate it, especially since the Bears defense will provide more of
The key for the Packers offense will once again be the running game,
something that was lacking in both meetings earlier this season (63
yards in game 1, 60 in game 2). Green Bay must find a way to get
James Starks and Brandon Jackson room to run in order to get the
Bears safeties out of that cover-2 shell. They also need the run to
keep linebackers Brian Urlacher and Lance Briggs honest on the run
fakes, allowing the seem-routes and deep middle routes to get behind
them in the middle of the field.
Despite scoring 35 points last week, the Bears offense will also need
to step up their game. Seattle dropped several potential Cutler
interceptions, including a huge one on their own goal line in a 7-0
game that could have changed the whole outcome of the game. The Bears
scored a few plays later to go up 14-0 and the Seahawks never got
another chance the rest of the day.
The other interesting angle between the Bears offense and the Packers
defense will be along the line of scrimmage. Cutler, who was sacked
three times and pressured to run against the Seattle pass rush a lot
last week, was pounded by the Packers pass rush in both games this
season (3 sacks in game one, 6 sacks in game two). If the Bears
cannot protect Cutler hell be forced to throw early and into tight
windows, and the Packers secondary is very capable of taking
advantage of those mistakes this week (3 INTs vs. GB this year).
The first game this season between these two teams turned on a 62-
yard punt return for a score by Devin Hester, so Chicago will still
have the advantage on special teams. In the next game the Packers
kicked it away from him, so field position will also play a role for
the Bears offense this week.
If youre looking for betting trends or other angles to make a
decision on this game, the Bears covered in both games this season,
including the first game at Soldier Field as (ironic) 3-point
underdogs. However, prior to the Bears covering both games this
season it was actually the Packers that went 4-0 ATS in the 2008 and
2009 seasons, and Green Bay is 9-3 ATS in their last 12 visits to
The under wager has cashed in six straight games, its 5-1 in the
last six head-to-heads played in Chicago, and its 8-2 in the
Packers last 10 games on the road overall. However, the over is
actually 5-1 in the Bears last six home playoff games, and its also
5-2 in the Packers last seven road playoff games, so there are plenty
of statistics for either side of the total.
Badgers Pick to Cover the Point Spread: I like the Packers to win and cover by a touchdown or more.