The NFL Playoffs just got a whole lot better.
For the first time in almost 60 years, the Chicago Bears will play the Green Bay Packers in the conference championship game. This time they play for the title of best team in the NFC when they meet at Soldier Field in Chicago on Sunday, at 3pm EST.
The last time the two teams met in the playoffs – 14 December, 1941 – America was at war with Japan, and the attack on Pearl Harbor had occurred just a week before.
Bears versus Packers is one of the greatest and storied rivalries in all of sports – a war in its own right. And the entire civilised world will be watching.
Green Bay Packers
Every player in yellow and green looked impressive in Sunday’s win against the team with the best record in the NFC.
The Packers dismantled the Falcons, scoring 48 points in the rout, while quarterback Aaron Rodgers had one of his best games, completing 31 of 36 passes while throwing for over 350 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions.
The Packers offensive line gave Rodgers enough time the entire game, only letting him get sacked twice.
On defence, cornerback Tramon Williams had two picks, and Clay Matthews showed his usual brilliance with a pair of sacks.
The Packers are rolling in January, offing the Eagles the week before and now cruising past the almost unbeatable at home Falcons, lead by quarterback Matt Ryan.
In Jay Cutler’s first playoff game of his career, he threw two touchdowns and, most importantly, no INTs.
That’s been Cutler’s Achilles’ heal — when he starts throwing screwballs, the Bears lose. But when he’s on target, like he was for most of Sunday’s win against Seattle, the Bears are unbeatable. And that’s because of their smothering defence.
The Bears let up only three points in the first three quarters, taking care of a 28-3 lead going into the fourth.
Tommie Harris returned to form with two sacks, and the Bears got after Seahawks quarterback Matt Hasselbeck for the majority of the game.
It was only at the end of the game when Seattle started to connect on offense, finally finding receivers Brandon Stokley and Mike Williams.
But it was too little too late for the underdogs, and the Bears held on to place them one game away from their second Super Bowl appearance in four years.
The Rivalry Returns
George Halas, coach and owner of the Bears for many years – and Vince Lombardi, head coach of the Packers and whom the Super Bowl trophy is named after, are names synonymous with American football.
They are part of its rich history, and they represent the early beginnings and major successes of both these clubs.
The Bears and Packers have played in more than 180 games over the past 70 years. But somehow this meeting in 2011 seems the most special. That’s because it’s a return to what makes the teams so dominant and unique.
The Packers are back to a gun-slinging offense, which brought them Super Bowl appearances and rings with Bart Starr in the 1960s and Brett Favre in the 1990s, and a tough-as-nails defence that puts constant pressure on the opposing team’s quarterback.
The Bears have a solid ground game, which is the foundation of their offense, and also a quarterback in Jay Cutler who’s a personality and obvious leader.
Like they did in 2007, the Bears look likely return to the Super Bowl.
But unlike that year when they lost to the mighty Colts, the Bears look more equipped to win the Super Bowl on 6 February, and in style.
Prediction: Bears to beat Packers comfortably