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Bears-Packers Preview

By Benjy Lipsman in News on Jan 21, 2011 7:20PM

In a little more than 48 hours, the Bears will play what many are calling their biggest game ever... except for Super Bowl XLVI or that one game in New Orleans 25 years ago we still talk about. The Monsters of the Midway take the field at Soldier Field on Sunday afternoon against their archrival Green Bay Packers, with the winner earning a trip to Super Bowl XLV.

No sooner was the match-up set last weekend before Vegas oddsmakers set the Bears as 3 point underdogs, despite being the higher seed and playing at home. Currently Green Bay's giving 3.5 points. That didn't stop former coach Mike Ditka — DITKA! — from predicting a Bears victory:

"Right now, I'm taking the Bears to win the game. I think the Bears are a lot better football team. I think they are doing things better in every area right now. The only thing they can't do is turn the football over. If they don't turn the football over, and protect the quarterback, they'll be fine."

The game will be the rubber match after Chicago and Green Bay split their two regular season meetings. The Bears came from behind on Monday Night in week three to win 20-17, while the Pack won in Green Bay in the regular season finale 10-3 to clinch their playoff spot.

Since the Packers reached the postseason, they've played like preseason pundits predicted. Quarterback Aaron Rodgers has been unreal, completing 48 of 63 passes for 546 yards and six touchdowns in their two wins over Philadelphia and Atlanta. Meanwhile the Bears jumped all over the Seattle Seahawks last week after earning a first round bye. Jay Cutler played pretty well himself, passing for a pair of TD and running in a pair as well. Only the New York Giants' Otto Graham had done that in a playoff game before.

Both teams have elite defenses, too. The Packers and Bears ranked one and two in points allowed in the NFC during the regular season, with the Packers allowing 15.0 points/game and the Bears 17.9 points/game. Green Bay has allowed 18.5 points/game in the playoffs, while the Bears allowed Seattle to score 24 points — most of them in garbage time.

The over/under for the game is 44 points, but we suspect it'll be well below that. In games like this, defense tends to rule. We're looking forward to a traditional "Black & Blue Division" battle in the frigid temps of Soldier Field. Just as football was meant to be played In the Tribune, Dan McNeil predicts a Packers 24-17 victory. We say Bears win 17-14.