It's Bears-Packers week, and it's not like we ever need extra motivation to talk smack to the Packer backers. In fact, I've already purchased four bricks of Jewel-brand cheddar cheese and blown them up with M-80s. (You may be more muted in expressing your distaste; it's cool.)
If you ever wanted to pounce on your frenemies to the north, they may never be more nervous than they will be Thursday. Because they know that even though it's only Week 2, their green-and-gold postseason destiny will be on the line. Here's why:
Under NFL scheduling rules, teams in the same division play 14 of 16 games each season against common opponents. The two remaining games use the previous year's standings to determine opponents; all division champions in a conference play each other the following season, as do second- through last-place finishers, respectively.
That means the Pack still have offensive juggernaut New Orleans to deal with, as well as a visit to the defending Super Bowl champs in New York. The Bears get Dallas on a Monday night (a Romolicious pressure cooker in the Jerrydome) and the Carolina Panthers, who had as many rushing yards as they did points (10) against crappy Tampa Bay on Sunday.
If the Bears win Thursday, they'll be up two games plus a head-to-head tiebreaker over Green Bay. A long path to the playoffs remains, but when the Packers' path is the tougher one, it's advantage: Bears.
This Packers secondary has had major problems covering big, physical receivers. See last season's Week 17 vs. Calvin Johnson and his 11 catches for 244 yards. Or Hakeem Nicks in their playoff loss; he had seven catches for 165 yards and two scores. The Bears now have Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffrey. If you like free money, put your bets on the Bears +5.5 and enjoy a whole bunch of free money (wagering legally, of course).
On Sunday evening, I joked/trolled on Twitter about the Packers' title window closing. Obviously as long as they've got Aaron Rodgers, they're contenders. But this year's window? The Bears can slam it shut in just a few hours.
RedEye special contributor Alex Quigley can be heard on WGN Radio 720.
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