From 4 to 2.......
Green Bay @ Chicago - This is it. Time to show up and play ball. The Bears get the Packers at home for the right to go to the Superbowl. The Bears come in with an offensive line that started off as terrible early in the year but has ended up being respectable as of late. That has led to improved performance by both Jay Cutler and Matt Forte. Cutler has looked his best in the past few weeks, a great improvement from the erratic guy we saw earlier in the season. The key for the Bears comes down to two things: 1) Cutler and 2) Defense. Now you might say, duh, isn't that what games normally depend on the QB and the defenses? Cutler can't 'miss' against this Packers defensive backfield. He had some INTs dropped against the Seahawks and he's good for throwing at least 1 pick in this game. If Cutler limits the turnovers and bad decisions, I think the Bears win this game. Look for a big game from the diminutive Johnny Knox, who seems to play well against the Packers. On the defensive side of the ball, (Lovie please read this before gametime) the Bears CAN NOT sit back and let Rodgers complete passes in that Cover 2 with the whole 'bend but don't break' mantra. The Bears are going to have to send corners, LBs, and parachute people in in order to get hits on Rodgers. Bring out all of the plays that you haven't used all year. When they get to Rodgers, they can't be like the Falcons and miss hitting him, they have to bring the pain. If Rodgers is dinged or injured, it's game over for the Packers.
The Packers have got to run the ball. Yes, that'll be hard against the Bears defense, but they have to have a commitment to running the ball, which equates to 20-25 carries. They might actually pop a big one on the Bears. Rodgers has all of his receivers playing at a high level, so the offensive line has got to protect Rodgers from the likes of Tommie Harris and Israel Idonije. No I didn't say Julius Peppers because they are going to have to double team him, period. That leaves the Idonije's and Harris' one on one and those guys are pretty good. On defense, I'm looking for a big game from BJ Raji and Cullen Jenkins. If the two of them cause problems up front, not only will they be able to get hits on Cutler, but they may force him into some bad throws and that's all Woodson and Williams are waiting on. Clay Matthews is a little dinged but he'll be ready to go. The Packers will test this offensive line to really see how well they have gotten.
In the end, the Bears are playing at home (even though the field is TERRIBLE) and I think that their special teams will need to be special for them to win this game. I expect the Packers to get to Cutler, and I even expect the Bears to get to Rodgers. I don't trust Cutler in this big of a game. So, to both Mike's (at the barbershop and at Union Station), Kevin (my Ray Lewis hater, he thinks Urlacher is better than Ray Lewis), and anyone else that I run across before the game here's what I got. Winner - Packers.