This is going to get ugly.
Chicago's Bears take on Green Bay's Packers next Sunday at Soldier Field in a meeting of historic proportions. By now you've heard that it's only the second time the ancient rivals have met in the playoffs -- and that the Bears won last time around.
You've probably heard that the Bears own the edge in record with a 92-83-6 lead in the standings.
But forget all that. This game isn't about history, it's about the future and the fans.
This game is about recreating a rivalry that stagnated during the Brett Favre era. When Favre was at the helm of the cheeshead squad, he flat-out owned Chicago. We had no answer -- Chad Hutchinson and Cade McNown sure weren't going to beat the gunslinger.
Favre's an afterthought in this matchup. The real heat comes from the squaring off of two top-flight quarterbacks. Aaron Rodgers and Jay Cutler will be duking it out in the NFC North for the better part of the next decade, and what better way to launch into a new era of Bears vs. Packers vitriol than pitting the two team leaders against one another in the NFC Championship game?
Cutler gets it.
‘‘Yeah, I texted him after [the Packers’ 48-21 victory in Atlanta on Saturday night] and told him, ‘Good game,’ ’’ Cutler said. ‘‘I’ll probably have a few text messages from him, so we’ll have friendly banter, I’m sure. Impressive win they had last night. What they did on the road to an Atlanta team is hard to do. So we’ve got our hands full.’’
This is the choice of a new generation.
What better venue to launch into the decade of NFC North air space battles than at Soldier Field, where the turf is slippery, the winds swirl and the fans get loud.
Julius Peppers understands.
‘‘As long as Aaron Rodgers is over there, we probably will be meeting them in the playoffs the next couple of years,’’ Peppers said. ‘‘I really think so.’’
So does Brian Urlacher.
"It's our closest rival. They're right up the street, so it's a big deal, We have a lot of history with them," Urlacher said. "I think it's the oldest rivalry in NFL history, so it's a big deal. We don't like them. They don't like us. I'm sure there's going to be a lot of hype around this game building up to it."
If you think the players are going to be up for this game, imagine their followers.
The fans are going to be frothing at one another this week. Pride will be on display like no time in recent memory. If you don't own Bears gear, you better get some. Orange and blue will look like a uniform around the second city this week.
Think the Blackhawks championship run brought this city to its feet? Wait until next Sunday around noon. Chicago is going to be rabid.
Bears vs. Packers isn't merely another playoff game, its the Midwest's Super Bowl and Chicago is going to eat up every second.