Well, here it is. The team the Bears could have taken out with a Week 17 kill-shot are back. And, dear fans, this looks to be trouble with a capital T.
But the Packers are gathering a head of steam that makes them look like a freight train. Against Atlanta, they never punted. Say what?
Yes, the Bears are warmer than the Falcons by virtue of playing last week. But the Bears also played a weak opponent and started coasting early. The Packers have had the pedal to the floor since Week 16. Every game has been a must-win. And aside from the 10-3 Bears game, the Packers have won comfortably. (The Philly game was not as close as the final score indicated, and the margin should have been wider, if not for some dropped passes.)
Aaron Rodgers is healthy. The receiving corps is starting to flesh out. And suddenly, the Packers have a running game. You don't expect a rookie to run all over the Bears, but James Starks has shown an interesting mix of speed, power and elusiveness. Heck, the Bears almost drafted him. But you can hope for a moment of rookie panic and a timely fumble or two.
The Bears' best shot to beat Green Bay is the same way the Jets shut down the Patriots' powerful attack. Run the ball. Chew up the clock. Don't give Rodgers more time than you have to. And knock that QB on his butt. Knock him down early and often. Get pressure to the QB and you can get in his head. Ideally, we'd physically get in his head with some sort of skull fracture or puncture wound. It's hard to slow that guy down.
This is the test we've been waiting for all year, Bears fans. Chop down an elite team for the right to battle another ferocious team in the Super Bowl. It will not be easy. It will take a total team effort. But it can be done.
Step up or shut up, Chicago.