Tag Archive: NFC

I will not be adding to barrage of ‘the last time these teams played in the playoffs was just a couple days after the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor’ clamor, because frankly, it has no bearing on anything.  These teams play each other twice a year, so we should pay attention to recent history when sizing up this game.  Chicago leads the rivalry all time, with a 93-83-6 record.  However, since 1990 it has been the Packers controlling it, posting 10 consecutive victories over the Bears from 1994-1998.  But the real story here is the Tale of Two Quarterbacks.  I’ve said it before, I hate the notion of ‘quarterback wins’, but in this case, it makes the story better- Aaron Rodgers will vanquish the ghosts of you-know-who as he rides into the sunset in a trail of interceptions and text message allegations, while Chicago paid royally for Jay Cutler, and have the chance for that to pay dividends (it helps that Josh McDaniels, you know, wasted the picks he got in Denver).

In addition to all that drama, let’s not forget defense.  These are two secondaries that have played in another universe over the last few weeks.  Tramon Williams (CB, Packers) got paid- and then showed why, making himself a household name with two last week against the Falcons and a game-clincher of Michael Vick in the wild card round.  And then there’s the defending Defensive Player of the Year, Charles Woodson.  Their defense ranks second in the NFL in sacks, and has always showed up in big games.  Chicago, meanwhile, ranks ninth in YPG allowed, and signed pass-rusher extraordinaire Julius Peppers in free agency, and he has played exceptionally well for them.  Both quarterbacks can expect to be harassed on all fronts, and using the running game to set up passing will be a deciding factor.  This will benefit whichever team wins- they face a strong defense in either team left in the AFC.

The line: Packers by 3.5

My Pick: Packers 28, Bears 17


The Line: Atlanta by three

Atlanta’s Keys to the Game: For the Falcons, it’s all about defense.  They rank 5th in points scored and 16th in YPG on offence, and with the three-headed beat of Ryan, Turner and White, their offense is set as long as they keep doing their thing.  The defense, however, will be tasked with stopping Aaron Rodgers and his arsenal of targets.  Pressure will be key, and it will have to come from their front four as much as possible.  Coincidentally, they are 5th in the league in points allowed (18) and 16th in yards allow per game (332.4).  However, they rank 22nd against the pass, and against the Packers, that’s not good enough.  They will give up yards- that’s a given against a Packers team averaging nearly 360 YPG- but if it makes enough big plays, they can swing the game in Atlanta’s favor.

Green Bay’s Keys to the Game: They need to run the ball like they did against Philadelphia.  They are playing in a nice, warm, non-windy dome, so Aaron Rodgers can expect to work the Falcons secondary in better conditions than he had in Philly.  If they can run the ball even moderately well against a strong Falcons run defense, it will open up play action passing and force linebackers to try to prevent the run instead of dropping into coverage.  James Starks had a game that in not receiving a lot of press because of Marshawn Lynch, but the Falcons defense noticed it and will do their best to shut him down.

My Pick: When Green Bay and Arizona’s high-powered offences clashed in the playoffs, it was the highest scoring playoff game in history, and it was decided by a big play on defense.  Look for a similar result here, with Alanta taking it.  Atlanta 35, Green Bay 30.

Hello, all, and welcome to First and Fifteen, a blog about all things football!  The middle of the playoffs might seem like an odd time to get started, but hey, why not?  We’ll be here through the rest of the playoffs and the offseason with observations, analysis and opinions.  Hopefully you enjoy the ride!