NFC Playoffs Will Be All About the Matchups

Analysts Kurt Warner and Trent Green agree that the Bears will want the Saints coming into Soldier Field rather than the Eagles (via Neil Hayes at the Chicago Sun-Times).

    “’With how well [the Bears] defense is playing, the Saints coming to Chicago would be a better matchup because Michael Vick is playing at such a high level,’ former Rams quarterback and current NFL Network analyst Trent Green said. ‘I don’t necessarily believe Philly is going to beat Green Bay, but the inconsistencies have been a little surprising from New Orleans, some of which is due to injury, some of which is Drew forcing things more than he did last year. Based on that, and especially since they are a dome team and if you can dial up the right kind of weather they could have problems, I would say the Saints, even though it’s hard to say you hope the matchup is against the defending Super Bowl champs.’”

    But Hayes also sees the Eagles as a good match up for the Bears:

    “If there is a defense equipped to stop Michael Vick, it’s the Bears. They proved as much during a 31-26 win on Nov. 28 that wasn’t as close as the score indicated. The Bears are quick and disciplined defensively. They kept Vick in front of them and forced him to run around in cold weather on slick sod trying to throw touch passes over Brian Urlacher’s head.”

    I would agree.  I would also have to say that, for all of the reasons that were demonstrated Sunday, the worst individual match up for the Bears is probably the Packers.  The Packers exposed many Bear weaknesses in that game.  Fortunately, the Bears won’t see either them or the NFC favorite Atlanta Falcons until the NFC championship game.

    Indeed, there is a decent chance that the Bears won’t see the Packers at all.  The same characteristics that make the Bears vulnerable to the Packers makes the Eagles an awful match up for them.  Kevin Seifert at explains the reason why:

    “[LeSean] McCoy has gotten his YAC on (Yards After Catch) this season. In fact, he has 724 YAC this season, the most in the NFL. His average of 9.3 YAC per reception ranks No. 9 in the NFL. Meanwhile, [DeSean] Jackson has 359 YAC and is averaging 7.6 YAC per reception.”

    “The Packers will not only have to keep track of where Vick, McCoy and Jackson are before the snap. They’ll need to take special care to wrap them up when they have a chance.”

    ESPN’s Trent Dilfer agrees:

    The Packers can, in fact, do that and they are perfectly capable of winning this game.  But, as indicated above, while the Bears cover two is specifically designed to stop the West Coast offense and limit the YAC, the aggressive man-to-man defense that the Packers specialize in is vulnerable to it.

    Bottom line, it isn’t just about who the best team is or even who the best team is on a given day.  Its also about the personnel and the scheme.  And how things fall together in those terms after this weekend will ultimately determine the Bears fate as much as any other factor.

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