Advantage| Lovie Smith
How can you argue with an 11-4 record and a No. 2 seed in the playoffs. Mike McCarthy ought to be jealous.
Yank out the grainy film of Papa Bear Halas and Vincent T. Lombardi. Recall the vivid memories of Gale Sayers versus Ray Nitcschke and Dick Butkus versus Paul Hornung, and don't forget Brian Urlacher versus Brett Favre.
The four-round prelim is over. The Bears had absolutely no trouble dispatching Pete Carroll and Seattle in what amounted to a glorified scrimmage. The game was N/C -- no contest -- and the triumph sets up a solid-gold main event for the NFL (and likely record breaking numbers for the television station that gets to air the game *ahem Fox*)
This Sunday the Bears and the Packers will meet for the third time this year for the right to work Super Bowl XLV.
Consider this a primer on the most traditional and storied rivalry in football history, college or professional!
This series has created heroes and villains since Al Capone was in his prime. If you wear the blue and orange, if you play for the Bears, a big game against the Pack is significantly better for your resume than a KO punch versus the Miami Dolphins.
There have been plenty of former Bears and Packers who've made their bones on this rivalry.
1. George Halas, nuff said.
2. Curley Lambeau, long time Green Bay player and head coach.
3. Vincent T. Lombardi, who controlled the rivalry during the '60s.
4. Mike Ditka, think Super Bowl shuffle, and The 'Fridge. Ditka pounded his share of lumps on Green Bay as a player during the '60s, but basically owned the Packers as the Bears head coach during the '80s.
5. Brett Favre. There's simply no player who has impacted the rivalry to a greater extent than No. 4.
In the pantheon of Bears vs. Packers games, there are five that stand out.
1. September 27, 1959. Green Bay 9, Chicago 6. The Pack knocks off Halas in Lombardi's debut on the Packer's sideline.
2. September 15, 1963. Bears 10, Green Bay 3. Old man Halas always descrived the win as his club's "greatest team effort."
3. November 13, 1968. Bears 13, Green Bay 10. Galloping Gale Sayers rushes for 205 yards. Mac Percival's "free kick" field goal lifts the Bears to a breath-taking victory.
4. October 21, 1985. William "Refrigerator" Perry knocks Packers linebacker Geroge Cumby into Lake Michigan as the Bears rout the Pack 23-7. Cash machine time; Fridge mania sweeps the nation. When Perry scored his first touchdown for the Bears he became a 325-lbs. reminder of Elvis Presley.
5. October 31, 1994. A Halloween night migraine. Green Bay clobbered the Bears 33-6. The lasting memory? Brett Favre diving in the end zone in the Soldier Field slop to score what was really a meaningless touchdown.
Coming back to the present, Sunday's NFC Championship matchup will certainly make the list.
Las Vegas opened the books with the Packers as a 3-point favorite over Chicago. If you think that's a big-time number for a club playing its third consecutive game on the road, you're right on target. But ask yourself this question: given the way he's played the past four weeks, Would you bet against Aaron Rodgers?
Maybe not. But no one should bet against a good matchup between these two storied franchises.