- And the hype continues via Mark Potash at the Chicago Sun-Times compares this game to other big games in Chicago:
“The only way the Bears (12-5) against the Packers (12-6) for the NFC championship and a berth in the Super Bowl could be any bigger would be if George Halas and Vince Lombardi were on the sidelines, Red Grange was in the backfield and the halftime entertainment was Jack Dempsey vs. Gene Tunney.”
By the way, how angry would you be if this game was blacked out locally whether it was a sell out or not? That was the situation in the NFL in 1963 when the Giants-Bears game for the NFL championship was played.
- Sean Jensen at the Chicago Sun-Times says that the Packers are already worried about the field. Good.
Packers receiver Greg Jennings called the turf at Soldier Field “probably the worst in the league.”
“’It’s rough,’ he said.
“’At the same time,’ he said later, ‘you have to go out before the game and kind of get a feel of what you’re working with, what you’re dealing with, get your footing, because that’s going to play a huge, huge role.’”
- ESPN‘s NFC North blogger Kevin Seifert is reading my mind (its a truly frightening place):
“There has been a lot of talk about replacing the grass at Soldier Field, which is annually in terrible condition. Even some Bears players are complaining about it, but I have to wonder if their sentiments aren’t partly strategic. The Bears know the field better than anyone and have a far better chance of anticipating its condition than opponents, even a regular vistor like the Packers. Conversely, the anticipation of problems is a powerful psychological disadvantage for the visiting team. If I were a Bears player, I would complain about the turf every time someone put a microphone in front of me, whether or not I believed it or not. Planting that concern in the minds of an opponent is a powerful home-field advantage.”
- Matt Hasselbeck thought the Bears did some things late in the game Sunday just to affect the Packers game preparation. Via Potash:
‘‘Once the game got out of hand score-wise, I felt like they were just doing stuff to do stuff,’’ Hasselbeck said. ‘‘Just trying to get all their coverages, all their blitzes on film for their next opponent. I didn’t think it made any sense to do [that]. It seemed like they were running every pressure they had when traditionally those guys have been, ‘We just do what we do. We play cover-2. We sit back and we win the game.’ But because they [didn’t do that], they gave us opportunities to get back in.’’
- Potash points out that the Bears offensive line has improved with notably fewer penalties over the last few games but also noted this:
“On the other hand, left tackle Frank Omiyale, who struggled against the Packers in Week 17, struggled again Sunday, beaten by defensive end Chris Clemons on at least a couple of occasions. Maybe he was great on the other 75 offensive plays the Bears ran, but it sure seems like an acute area of needed improvement against the Packers. It’s doubtful Packers linebacker Erik Walden has gotten worse in the last three weeks.”
- Ryan Haggerty and Gregory Karp at the Chicago Tribune report that Bears ticket holders are struggling with the decision to either go to the game or sell their tickets online. See them if you must, guys but NO GREEN BAY FANS.
- Michael C. Wright at ESPNChicago quotes Tramon Williams on playing the Bears a third time:
“It’s going to come down to the small details. When you play a team like that, you may not feel that you have to put in as much studying because you feel you know that team. But you don’t take that approach. You have to go back in, pay attention to more details, and kind of go into Chicago Bears locker room and see [whether you] can understand their players like they understand it. That’s something that my coach just finished telling me that he’s going to do, detailing this work like that. That’s something that our defense has been doing, detailing their work all year. I think that’s what made us play the way we’ve been.”
- Chris Berman at ESPN thinks the Bears might have an advantage after playing the Packers hard in the regular season finale:
- Tony Dungy thinks the Bears found their identity over the last month offensively but that the key will still be pressuring Aaron Rogers without blitzing. via ESPN:
- Derrick Brooks agrees. And he thinks Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rogers will fold under pressure. And he thinks that the Bears are going to win the Super Bowl. I think I’m in love. In a non-sexual, manly kind of way…:
- The Chicago Tribune photojournalists uploaded this nice video celebrating the 2011 season to YouTube:
- Tim Twentyman at the Detroit News writes about how Ndamukong Suh‘s sister, Ngum, keeps his life off the field headed in the right direction.
- The Raiders promoted offensive coordinator Hue Jackson to be their new head coach. The Bears interviewed Jackson to be their offensive coordinator before hiring Mike Martz. Apparently they were looking at the right guys.
- This comment from Patriots wide receiver Deon Branch via Mark Viera at The New York Times sounds a little hollow right now:
“’We’re still the face of the N.F.L.,’ Branch said. ‘We were still the best team in the N.F.L. in the regular season.’”
- Dave Caldwell at the Times thinks the Jets aren’t talking as much with the Steelers coming up:
“There appears to be a reason the Jets intend to tone down the trash talking. The winner of this game goes to the Super Bowl, and that will be enough motivation.”
“The Jets fell one game short of the Super Bowl a year ago, losing to the Colts in the A.F.C. championship game. Nose tackle Sione Pouha recalled walking off the field at Lucas Oil Stadium after the loss with Shaun Ellis, blue and white confetti hitting him in the face.
“’I cannot tell you how horrific that was,’ [nose tackle Sione] Pouha said.”
- Peter King explains to Mike Florio at profootballtalk.com why they should retire the name “Matty Ice”:
One Final Thought
Former NFL quarterback Boomer Esiason on why teams embrace the “disrespect” card. Via Sam Farmer, writing for the Chicago Tribune:
“We’re all still little football players at heart — and little football players like to be motivated, like to have an edge going into a game, some sort of anger, some reason to be more focused.”
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