Can't wait for Bears vs. Packers
RICK TELANDER email@example.com January 11, 2011 11:02PM
Updated: September 24, 2012 6:25AM
You can do all you want with an 8-9 record, my friends, but you cannot, as they say, polish a cow pie.
Thus, we’ll assume the 11-5 Bears will dispose of the sub-.500 Seattle Seahawks on Sunday at Soldier Field and move on to the NFC Championship Game.
That NFC title game could be held here, on the same terribly turfed field that the players all complain about but mostly love.
Imagine for a moment: Sunday, Jan. 23, the Bears against the Packers (who would have just beaten the NFC No. 1 seed Atlanta Falcons), ghosts of Nitschke, Nagurski, Michalske, even pronounceable heroes such as Payton, Adderley, Gregg and Clyde ‘‘Bulldog’’ Turner hovering over Soldier Field like vicious angels, snow falling, perma-frost embedded, crazed fans in parkas, hip waders, bedroom quilts, mercury falling, insanity . . .
And after that contest comes the Super Bowl, which, truly, at this moment, is too difficult for this writer to contemplate.
Da Super Bowl?
No, can’t do it. Not yet.
So we back up to the Seahawks in four days.
So they beat the New Orleans Saints on Saturday, even though the Saints are the defending NFL champs? Means nothing. The Seahawks rode the enthusiasm of the home crowd. And Super Bowl champs always fold the year after.
Falcons in the way
So after the Bears defeat Matt Hasselbeck and tackle-busting Marshawn Lynch, they play the winner of the Packers-Falcons game for the right to go on to suburban Dallas and the bright lights.
If the 13-3 Falcons beat Green Bay, you have to worry a bit about the Bears. Maybe a lot. That is, if you worry about anything in this unfathomable season.
The Falcons have home-field advantage, play in a dome, are led by blossoming young quarterback Matt Ryan, bowling-ball running back Michael Turner and an attack-dog defense.
By rights, the NFC-best Falcons should move on to the Super Bowl and throw down against the best team in the AFC, the New England Patriots.
But this season has been full of weirdness.
And don’t you just have to wonder about a swiftly ascending team such as the Falcons?
Wasn’t Michael Vick just their franchise quarterback, the dog guy who ruined everything by taking a two-year prison sabbatical?
I mean, how the Falcons got where they are is curious, like the Bears.
The Falcons have had six coaches or interim coaches since 2003 and now are led by the anonymous, though obviously competent, Mike Smith. Raise your hand if you knew Smith was the NFL coach of the year in 2008. Raise your other hand if you knew he was Brian Billick’s brother-in-law.
OK, so that stuff doesn’t count. Everything in the NFL gets evened out by revenue sharing, the salary cap, free agency and the fact that the lousiest teams get the best draft choices. So it goes.
What we’re really talking about is if the Packers beat the Falcons.
That would set up the showdown in two weeks at Soldier Field that seems so contrived as to have been previously impossible.
The Bears already have played the Packers twice this season, splitting the games, with each team winning at home.
In the last game, the season-ender at Lambeau Field, Bears quarterback Jay Cutler was beaten like a lizard on a ballroom floor and finished with a pitiful 43.5 passer rating.
That shouldn’t happen again, when it really matters, just as we shouldn’t see Johnny Knox, Devin Hester and Devin Aromashodu catch one pass among them for 16 yards.
Smoke and mirrors
The Packers have a great quarterback in Aaron Rodgers and quality receivers in Donald Driver and Greg Jennings. But much of the team’s surge has been done with smoke. Indeed, the Packers have 14 players on injured reserve, including six starters.
In that Jan. 2 victory against the Bears, Packers little-used, sixth-round rookie running back James Starks had five carries for 20 yards. He didn’t go off like he did last week against the Philadelphia Eagles in the Packers’ wild-card playoff win when he ran for 123 yards.
The Bears should make Starks and mates return to earth. Home field? Ghosts? Chi-Town?
Yes, it’s true offensive leader Cutler has played in as many post-season games as you or I.
And it’s dangerous as heck to look past a foe, such as the Sea- hawks.
But let’s do it.