1. Julius Peppers, Tommie Harris (?!?) and the rest of the front four need to set up shop in the Packers backfield. The Packers had a few big pass plays in the last game during week 17 at Lambeau by throwing deep down the sideline. They got the safety in the Tampa 2 scheme to bite on a fake deep middle route then threw it deep down the sideline to an open receiver. I'm sure the Bears coaches have harped on that this week telling the safeties to not be so quick to commit to the deep middle routes. Expect the Packers to counter that by trying to throw intermediate and deep passes down the middle of the field. How can all of this be negated? Rush the passer. Make it so that Aaron Rodgers doesn't have time to throw any deep passes.
It's possible that the ghost of Tommie Harris has been sighted. He quietly regained a starting spot towards the end of the season after being a healthy scratch earlier in the year. He showed the old explosion in getting two sacks against the Seahawks on Sunday. He may never be the player of 4 years ago again but more play like this as well as consistent play from the rest of the front four will make things difficult for the red hot Rodgers. A lot of holding calls against the Pack O-line like in week 3 will be another indication that the Bears defensive line is winning this battle.
2. Run the football. Mike Martz got hung up trying to establish the passing game in week 17. He can't afford to make that mistake again. The Bears offense is most effective when it's balanced and a big game from Matt Forte will go a long way to ensuring a Bears victory on Sunday.
3. Make James Starks fumble. Starks is a late round pick who missed most of the season to injury who will be playing in the biggest game of his young career on Sunday. To me, that screams make him fumble. This doesn't mean that Starks is prone to fumbling. He seems to protect the ball well in the few games I've seen him play. If Jay Cutler controls his tendency to turn the ball over, the big play in this game will be a fumble. The Bears need to make sure it's a fumble by Starks.
All of the above is assuming that Jay Cutler doesn't turn into an interception machine. More than 2 picks by Jay will be too much for the Bears to overcome.
Here are a few other notes before Sunday's game:
- There have been a lot of videos being passed around regarding the Bears Packers rivalry this week. The video below contains a lot of the memorable plays from the 80s including the Mark Lee hit, the Ken Stills hit and a few Charles Martin plays. One thing I hadn't noticed, or maybe had noticed but had forgotten until now, is how in the Mark Lee play the reason Lee continues the play and pushes Walter Payton over the bench is because Walter pulls his facemask after both players are out of bounds. You can see this starting at around the 2:50 mark of the video. Awesome! As an aside it really took me back to hear Tim Ryan and Johnny Morris on the call of this game.
- I always wondered why the Super Bowl winner got the Lombardi Trophy while the NFC Championship winner got the George Halas Trophy. The NFC Championship trophy wasn't established until 1984 which was the year after Papa Bear died. The Super Bowl trophy was established in 1970 which was the same year Vince Lombardi died. So the reason the Super Bowl trophy is named after Lombardi is because he died first!