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Predictions & Projections
David Dorey
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CHAMPIONSHIP
ROUND
SUNDAY JANUARY 23rd
Green Bay at Chicago 3:00 PM EST NY Jets at Pittsburgh 6:30 PM EST

Prediction: GB 24, CHI 23

This is a replay of week three when the Packers lost 17-20 in Chicago. The Packers won 10-3 in week 17 when the Bears had nothing to win and the Packers would miss the playoffs with a loss. The Packers are favored by 3.5 points this week. This will be a cold game with the temperatures around 23 degrees and a small chance of snow. Wind should not be a factor. In the last five meetings, neither team has scored more than 21 points.

Green Bay Packers (10-6)
Homefield: Lambeau Field
Grass
  Opp Score   Opp Score
1 @PHI W 27-20 10 Bye -
2 BUF W 34-7 11 @MIN W 31-3
3 @CHI L 17-20 12 @ATL L 17-20
4 DET W 28-26 13 SF W 34-16
5 @WAS L 13-16 14 @DET L 3-7
6 MIA L 20-23 15 @NE L 27-31
7 MIN W 28-24 16 NYG W 45-17
8 @NYJ W 9-0 17 CHI W 10-3
9 DAL W 45-7 - - -
Packers Report | Statistics | Roster
GREEN BAY Rush Catch Pass
QB Aaron Rodgers - - 250,2
RB Brandon Jackson 20 20 -
RB James Starks 60,1 - -
TE Andrew Quarless - 20 -
WR Greg Jennings - 60,1 -
WR Jordy Nelson - 40 -
WR Donald Driver - 30 -
WR James Jones - 60,1 -
PK Mason Crosby 1 FG 3 XP -

Pregame Notes: One of the challenges in breaking down this game is that the previous two matchups are not that great as a measuring stick. In week three, The Packers were clipped in Chicago back when Jermichael Finley was the main receiver and there was no hint of a rushing game. Week 17 in Green Bay was a yawner and the Bears were not playing for anything having already secured their place in the playoffs. And the only times these teams have met in the postseason was one week after Pearl Harbor so that probably doesn't apply here.

But the Packers have beaten the Eagles and Falcons in road games the last two weeks with dominating defense and a nearly perfect passing game. But as with all interdivisional rivals, records and past performances often mean nothing between two very familiar opponents.

QUARTERBACK: Aaron Rodgers passed for 316 yards and one score in the previous meeting with the Bears and he rushed in one touchdown as well. Rodgers has thrown for three or more touchdowns in the two games before and after the week 17 matchup when he was held to only 229 yards and one score. The Bears have allowed at least one score to each visiting quarterback since the season opener and three of the last four visitors had more than one score.

There should be no wind to contend with though the weather will be very cold as it was in Philadelphia when Rodgers threw for three scores but only 180 yards. Rodgers knows this defense though and his receivers have been all contributing. Rodgers should end up as the most productive quarterback of the weekend.

RUNNING BACKS: James Starks did not play in the first meeting with the Bears and in week 17 he only had five runs for 20 yards when the Bears visited. But he rolled up 123 yards on 23 carries in Philadelphia and was limited to 66 yards on 25 runs last week in Atlanta. Starks is now a big part of the offense and a new element in the game against the Bears who are used to Brandon Jackson turning in around 20 rushing yards per game against them.

The Bears at home have been far better against the run than their ranking suggests and it has been very rare for any team to turn in 100 rushing yards against them. Starks is a new feature but the Bears have handled most all other runners including holding the Seahawks to only 21 rushing yards from their runners last week. Starks has a shot at a score here and decent yardage because he's getting 20+ carries per game but only one runner had a big game in Chicago and that was Ryan Torain long ago. Even Adrian Peterson has been bottled up in Chicago.

WIDE RECEIVERS: Donald Driver had his busiest game of the year back in week three when he snared nine passes for 61 yards in Chicago But he only has three touchdowns since the season opener and none were in a road game. He's little more than a tight end in his production level. Greg Jennings scored in that first meeting with the Bears though he only had two catches for 18 yards. He later gained 97 yards on four receptions in the week 17 meeting but Jennings has been a major factor in virtually every game since Finley left. James Jones has caught a touchdown in each of the two playoff games and has really supplanted Driver as the better weapon.

The Bears secondary is weakest against wide receivers and this time around the Packers have at least some semblance of a rushing game to consider which should help. The ten scores allowed to visiting wideouts by the Bears this season have all gone to either primary receivers or speedy secondary targets and that bodes best for both Jennings and Jones.

TIGHT ENDS: Andrew Quarless never scored in a road game and has been little used during the season. He has not produced more than two meaningless catches per game for the last month.

RANKS (1-32, 1 = BEST) TEAM QB RB WR TE PK DEF
Gaining Fantasy Points GB 2 31 2 20 15 5
Preventing Fantasy Points CHI 20 18 22 23 18 9
Advantage(+) or Disadvantage(-)   18 -13 20 3 3 4


Chicago Bears (11-5)
Homefield: Soldier Field
Grass
  Opp Score   Opp Score
1 DET W 19-14 10 MIN W 27-13
2 @DAL W 27-20 11 @MIA W 16-0
3 GB W 20-17 12 PHI W 31-26
4 @NYG L 3-17 13 @DET W 24-20
5 @CAR W 23-6 14 NE L 7-36
6 SEA L 20-23 15 @MIN W 40-14
7 WAS L 14-17 16 NYJ W 38-34
8 Bye - 17 @GB L 3-10
9 @BUF W 22-19   - -
Bears Report | Statistics | Roster
CHICAGO Rush Catch Pass
QB Jay Cutler - - 220,1
RB Matt Forte 70,1 40 -
TE Greg Olsen - 50,1 -
WR Devin Hester - 30 -
WR Earl Bennett - 30 -
WR Johnny Knox - 60 -
PK Robbie Gould 3 FG 2 XP -

Pregame Notes: The Bears had no problem taking down the visiting Seahawks last week and the final score of 24-35 does no justice to how dominating the Bears were until they allowed 21 points in the fourth quarter when they thought it was over. Jay Cutler was the difference maker and may be shedding his previous knock of not being a truly elite quarterback who can win big games. This week will go far to either building on the success of last week or just making Cutler drop back into being a pass-happy quarterback that doesn't translate into winning games.

QUARTERBACK: Jay Cutler passed for 221 yards and one score in the first meeting with the Packers with one interception but only three sacks. In the week 17 meeting, he only threw for 168 yards and was sacked six times. Cutler posted one of his best games of the year when he passed for 274 yards and two touchdowns last week against the visiting Seahawks and he added two rushing scores in that game. Cutler only had one rushing touchdown all year long before that and the Packers have allowed just one rushing score by a quarterback - Michael Vick.

The Packers defense has allowed more than one passing touchdown in a road game only once this year and that was to Tom Brady who threw for two scores and just 163 yards. Anything more than moderate yardage and one score would be a major success since the Packers have rarely allowed that and have been playing better in the playoffs.

RUNNING BACKS: Matt Forte has been running better than ever for the last six weeks and even in the meaningless week 17 game, he racked up 91 yards on just 15 rushes and he added a season high eight catches that gained 60 yards. His first meeting with the Packers only resulted in 29 yards on 11 carries though and he only had two catches in that matchup. This game will call on Forte to be a major weapon in moving the ball and keeping the Packers off the field. He's also being used more as a receiver in recent weeks and that makes more sense in games like this against a top secondary.

The Packers have been great against the run because they have so often been ahead that their opponents do not get enough carries. Last week Michael Turner only gained 39 yards since he only had ten runs though he did score once. Forte has been running far better lately and should be a force in this game.

WIDE RECEIVERS: The early meeting in Chicago saw Johnny Knox turn in 94 yards on four catches but no other wideout had more than 21 yards that day. In the more recent matchup, Johnny Knox was not only held to no catches, he was thrown eight passes in that game. The Packers secondary has been one of the best all year and has already held the Bears receivers in check. Hard to rely on any wideout here other than Knox and even he was blanked in the last meeting with the Packers.

TIGHT ENDS: Greg Olsen had not scored since week 12 and had been nearly unused and yet came in with three catches for 113 yards and one touchdown against the Seahawks last week. Tight ends are the only weakness of the secondary for the Packers and is there for production if Cutler will use him again. Olsen caught five passes for 64 yards and one score in that first game.

RANKS (1-32, 1 = BEST) TEAM QB RB WR TE PK DEF
Gaining Fantasy Points CHI 20 18 22 23 18 9
Preventing Fantasy Points GB 4 4 3 25 9 9
Advantage(+) or Disadvantage(-)   -16 -14 -18 2 -9 0

CHAMPIONSHIP
ROUND
SUNDAY JANUARY 23rd
Green Bay at Chicago 3:00 PM EST NY Jets at Pittsburgh 6:30 PM EST
Other Features
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Tuesday Injury Report
Playoff Fantasy Player Rankings
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