- Mike Mulligan at the Chicago Sun-Times explains where the money generated by the playoff games goes.
- Matt Bowen at the Chicago Tribune teaches us about beating the edge blitz.
- Dan Pompei at the Chicago Tribune makes the fine distinction between playing faster in the playoffs and playing fast every play:
“What is different about playoff football is there is no letup. Every play is played like it’s the last play. That isn’t always the case in the regular season.
“‘The tempo in the playoffs is a 10, but the tempo in a normal regular-season game (can be) a 10, especially if it’s a big game,’ one general manager said. ‘If the tempo is off, it may be as low as a seven. But it’s not like playoff football is played at a tempo you never had played before, especially if you are a team that made the playoffs.'”
- Michael C. Wright at ESPNChicago.com expresses my biggest concern in his five things to look for in the Seahawns-Bears game:
“How the week off affects the Bears: The last time the team received significant time off, it struggled in its return. Coming off a bye in October, the Bears faced the Buffalo Bills in Toronto and won 22-19. But with 10 minutes left to play, the Bears trailed to a Bills team that racked up 340 yards of offense and converted 63 percent of third downs. Although Chicago owns the obvious home-field advantage, the way it starts out Sunday’s game could ultimately determine the victor. The Bears can’t afford to get off to a sluggish start against the Seahawks, which enter the game riding a wave of momentum. “
Both the Steelers and the Falcons looked rusty to me yesterday at the beginning of their respective games.
- The Seahawks don’t even think their own fans believe in them:
- This Seahawks fan would seem to share the same goals that his team has:
- Bill Cowher expresses doubts about Chicago as he continues to hope in vain that the coaching position comes open. Perhaps I’m exaggerating:
- And, of course, The Onion gets into the act with their keys to victory for the game. This would seem to be an important one for the Seahawks:
“There must be a way to give Leon Washington room to run, perhaps by devising a method to obstruct defenders attempting to tackle him.”
“Although Urlacher claimed that the high concentration of hydrogen and trace amounts of methane, ammonia, phosphine, and acetylene would leave players gasping for breath, quarterback Jay Cutler insisted the thin Rocky Mountain air made INVESCO Field at Mile High a harder place to play.”
- Mike Tanier at the New York Times explains what every Bears fan knows. The Bears haven’t had a good quarterback since Sid Luckman:
“After a great 1949 season, [Luckman successor Johnny] Lujack earned All-Pro honors in 1950 although he threw 4 touchdown passes and had 21 interceptions, largely because the Bears went 9-3. Future Bears quarterbacks took Lujack’s example to heart, striving to achieve victory while committing as many turnovers as possible.”
“[Jay] Cutler, like [Billy] Wade and [Jim] McMahon, is just competent enough to not hinder the Bears during a championship run. In the 60 years since Luckman, that is the highest praise any Bears quarterback has earned.”
Don’t speak too soon, Mike.
- Here’s some surprisingly good betting advice for today’s Bear game. The one who knows what he’s talking about is Marco D’Angelo, the guy in the tie:
- B.J. Raji thinks the Packers are a team of destiny. Pretty hard to argue today.
- Pete Dougherty and Rob Demovsky at the Green Bay Press Gazette seem to agree:
- More Raji from Kareem Copeland, also at the Press Gazette:
“Let me say this about No. 34 the fullback (Ovie Mughelli). He was talking real crazy about how soft we were and we came in here and showed him. That’s what happens when you talk a big game.”
- Tramon Williams thought the Falcons were predictable:
- Sean Jensen at the Chicago Sun-Times writes about the excellent job the general managers for both the Seahawks (John Schneider) and Packers (Ted Thompson) have done. But Thompson knows where to put a lot of the credit:
“I’m proud of our coaching staff because it’s not an easy thing to keep bringing new guys in and getting them ready.
“But our coaches and players have handled this extraordinarily well. I’m proud of that.”
The Packers coaches have done an unbelievable job this year.
- Most of us understand that the Packers-Bears rivalry is pretty intense. But they don’t have anything on the Steelers-Ravens. Yesterday’s game was classic (via the Associated Press):
“‘What better way to put the Ravens out of the tournament,’ Steelers wide receiver Hines Ward said. ‘They keep asking for us and we keep putting them out of the tournament. They’re going to be ticked about this for a long time.'”
- Give Terrell Suggs credit for at least knowing where to pint the finger after the loss:
- Michael David Smith at profootballtalk.com reports that NFL coaches will take a straw poll at the NFL combine about forming a union. How the NFL responds will be something to watch for.
- ESPNNewYork reports that Dennis Byrd, who suffered an broken neck while playing for the Jets in 1993, gave an emotional speech to the Jets in preparation for today’s game against the Patriots:
“‘I just heard the most inspirational message of my life from former Jet Dennis Byrd,’ wide receiver Braylon Edwards tweeted.
“In a follow-up tweet, Edwards added, ‘As God is my witness, I have never been more ready to perform in my life. Dennis Byrd, I respect, salute and honor you.'”
It certainly sounds like Edwards isn’t the only one ready to play as the hype continues to increase as game time gets closer:
- So you non-Bear fans are wondering who to root for in the playoffs. Once again, we turn to The Sports Pickle for this handy chart. (I think you Falcons and Ravens fans may still be in a bind, though):
One Final Thought
I found video of one young fan who seems to be pretty excited about today’s game: