Free NFL Pick: Chicago at Green Bay 01-02-2010

January 2, 2011

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Chicago Bears at Green Bay Packers

Sunday January 1st, 2011 4:15 PM EST

Line: Green Bay -10

Overview:

The Chicago Bears have locked up home field advantage for their first game after clinching the NFC North. This week they are playing for seeding, and head coach Lovie Smith has said that his starters will see action. While repetitions have been increased for backups this week, the starters will likely see most of the snaps. The Bears also beat their opponent earlier in the season, but somehow, they are picked to be ten point underdogs against the Green Bay Packers this week.

The Green Bay Packers have lost two of their last three games, but they did not have the services of Aaron Rodgers for either game, as he was knocked out of the game with concussion early on in the game against Detroit. They came back strong last week to obliterate the Giants. They are fighting for their playoff lives at this point and a win would give them double digit wins and a shot at the playoffs.

Keys to the Game:

  • Aaron Rodgers came back stronger than ever last week, throwing for a career high 404 yards and four touchdowns. Rodgers carved up the Giants and never slowed down from start until finish. He was snubbed by Pro Bowl voters, but certainly turned heads last week. This is when you want to be playing your best football, and Rodgers certainly is. We all know what has happened to their receiving corp this season, but the Packers could be one more victory away from defeating all odds and overcoming all of the adversity that has been thrown at them this season.
  • Matt Forte has been running well in recent weeks. It is unclear how long he will stay in the game, but should he remain active in the game, he should produce solid numbers. Forte has been somewhat disappointing since Jay Cutler arrived in Chicago. It is good to see him getting in a rhythm and taking on more responsibilities in the offense. If the Bears do well in the playoffs, it will be in large part due to Matt Forte.

Key Matchup:

Clay Matthews Vs. Julius Peppers

  • If you like to see pressure on the quarterback, this is the game to tune in to. Clay Matthews  and Julius Peppers are as good as they come when it comes to coming off the edge. They play in different schemes, but have similar roles in their defenses. Matthews blew up the first half of the season, but has since slowed down, accruing only one sack in his last five games. Peppers and Matthews are both All-Pro defensive players and both could easily make a case for being the Defensive Player of the Year.
  • This matchup will come down to which quarterback handles the pressure better. Despite their injuries, the Packers still have the better receiving corp. Even so, Jay Cutler has better options to check down to. They could play a more critical role in this game, as both quarterbacks need to have a quick trigger unless they want to end up in the turf.

Wrap Up:

This is an intriguing game. I’m not sure I can even justify calling this one an upset, but I like Chicago to win this outright. If the starters start the game, that is a good indication the Bears place some value in obtaining a higher seed. They get to rest next week. While the Packers dominated the Giants, I can’t see Lovie Smith allowing the Bears to get blown away right before they enter the playoffs.

Free NFL Pick: Chicago +10


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