Free NFL Pick: Green Bay at Chicago 01-23-2011

January 22, 2011

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Green Bay Packers at Chicago Bears

Sunday January 23rd, 2011 3:00 PM EST

Line: Green Bay -3 1/2

Overview:

Green Bay has been the dark horse throughout the 2010 post season. Most probably expected them to be bounced out of the first round, but they are currently the team that nobody wants to play, excepting maybe the Chicago Bears. The Packers are healthier than they have been all season. All four remaining teams have a stellar defense, so the team hoisting the Lombardi Trophy will likely be the one with the most effective offense. Green Bay has a solid shot at it.

The Chicago Bears have to be feeling a little disrespected. Much like the Atlanta Falcons when they took on Green Bay, there are very few people siding with the Bears in the their matchup against the Packers. The Bears won the NFC North. They went 11-5 in the regular season. They feature a ferocious defense. They even split games with the Packers in the regular season. So what gives? Nobody is giving the Bears a shot, but I don’t think they would have it any other way. It is fitting that they will face their most bitter rival for a chance to go to the Super Bowl. They already proved they were the best team in the NFC North by winning the division. Can they do it again by knocking out the Packers?

Keys to the Game:

  • The Bears have to keep Aaron Rodgers restricted. Though he is viewed as a pocket passer because he is lethally accurate, he is one of the most athletic quarterbacks in the entire NFL. Rodgers can scramble, but that is not what makes his legs dangerous. He is able to create different launch points on the field when the pocket collapses. A busted play can turn into something special in a hurry.
  • Julius Peppers played a big hand in the containing of Michael Vick. Peppers will have a less daunting task this week, but he has produced two fairly quiet games against Rodgers. Peppers has the ability to control the line of scrimmage and allow his teammates to make plays, but that won’t be enough this week. He is going to need to make his presence felt in the backfield.
  • Clay Matthews is quite possibly the best pass rusher in the NFL. Like Peppers, he commands attention from the offense on every single play. It is fairly safe to say that that the Bears feature the worst offensive line still standing. They have steadily improved as the season has gone on, but still leave something to be desired. Mike Martz likes to create plays that require both time and the tight end and running back going out on routes. That can be dangerous when Matthews is on the field.
  • The Bears need to play their defensive game. It is easy to get caught up in the Packers’ offense, but trying to defend everyone can be trying. 15 players on the Packers have a reception this season. It’s easy to pinpoint the playmakers, as Greg Jennings and Donald Driver are clearly their best wideouts, but on any given day Tom Crabtree can be the hero. Rodgers does a good job of finding whoever is open. Despite putting up a loss, the Bears held the Packers to ten points. They shouldn’t change too much defensively.

Key Matchup:

Nick Collins, Tramon Williams and Charles Woodson Vs. Jay Cutler

  • The Packers feature three of the best ball hawking defensive backs in football. Teams tend to shy away from throwing to the side of Charles Woodson which has limited the former defensive player of the year’s picks to two this season. Teams that have thrown at Tramon Williams have seen horrific results, as he has posted six interceptions by himself this season. Nick Collins will quite possible be the most important of the three in this matchup. The safety sees a lot of action when the Bears are on the other sideline.
  • The Bears like to utilize Greg Olson and Matt Forte in the passing game. Jay Cutler has a tendency to bypass them at times and turn into an interception machine in some games. While he has been consistent throughout the playoffs, don’t be surprised if he starts launching the ball in the direction of the Packers’ secondary if he starts feeling the heat. Cutler in not considered an elite quarterback because of his ineptitude in certain choice games. Given the magnitude of this game, the pressure the Packers can apply, and the immaculate coverage the Packers pose, the Bears may have something to worry about.

Wrap Up:

The Packers are drawing a ton of action in Vegas. Somehow the low seeded team has turned itself into a dominant powerhouse. The Bears aren’t going to roll over are surrender a shot at the Super Bowl. In their mind they have the best defense in the NFL. They also hate the Green Bay Packers with every fiber of their being. Will that be enough to knock off the red hot Packers?

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