Rivalry Renewed: The Greatest Sports Rivalry

We here at PBSB love the rivalry aspect of athletics. Rivalries tend to evoke different levels of emotion from all those participating, from the players on the field to the rest of us losers off the field.  This Sunday will bring us another chapter in the quintessential rivalry that is the Chicago Bears vs. the Green Bay Packers.

Just two dudes dressing up to watch other men tackle each other.

Two of the oldest teams in American sports, they’ve been going at it (sorry I had to, for those who clicked the link) since 1921 (Chicago leads the series 92-84, with 6 ties).  The division rivals have been both champions and chumps at some point in their histories, but mainly champions. The two teams have combined for 22 NFL Championships. And yes at PBSB we count ALL titles, the teams earned them (except when it comes to the Eagles, they still haven’t won anything). And for you traditionalists, the Chicago Bears had won one (1985) Super Bowl and Green Bay four (1966, 1967, 1996 and 2010). Most recently, they played for the NFC Title last season. Green Bay would go on to win the game and the Super Bowl. Even if one team is having a stellar year and the other is not, the game is always hard fought. Fans are in for a real treat with the greatest rivalry in sports. Don’t give us the Yankees-Red Sox, they play about 60 times per season, and that isn’t a rivalry at that point, it’s like an intra-squad scrimmage. The next best rivalry is UConn-Tennessee in women’s basketball…just kidding it is probably Duke-UNC. But back to the upcoming game: This Sunday is sure to be another good one. Here’s how they match up:

Sweetness was just too perfect of a word to fit across a headband headband.

After posting his first winning season since high school, Jay Cutler leads a revamped Bears offense. The front office seems to believe in Cutler and decided to give him some more weapons on offense, always nice for a QB who always seems to be drawing criticism even when he doesn’t rightly deserve it, in Marion Barber III and Longhorn Roy Williams (basically Chicago signed all of the Cowboys back-ups for each skill position…except Jon Kitna, Dallas wasn’t giving him up). This is all part of the never ending effort in Chicago to bring the offense up to par with the defense—the effort that has failed since Walter Payton retired.The thing is though, Chicago’s defense is so good that they really don’t need an offense that badly, they’d just appreciate it if the offense didn’t blow the game. The defense is led by linebacker-extraordinaire Brian Urlacher and dual threat athlete Julius Peppers. The secondary took a hit losing Daniel Manning and they are still reeling in the loss of Mike Brown. They did however pick up another former U standout in Brandon Meriweather. Although this Chicago secondary isn’t filled with household names like Charles Woodson, they always tend to be a solid unit. The front seven can be considered one of the league’s best with Urlacher, Peppers, and Lance Briggs. Almost as consistent as the defensive play of the Bears is their special teams. And if there ever was a man worthy of the “special teams ace” title, that man is the U’s own Devin Hester. Some of the things Hester can do are not possible in mere mortals. Add in Robbie Gould and the Bears may have the best special teams both ways.

Green Bay on the other hand has one of the top quarterbacks in the league, and the championship belt owner. The Packers managed to win the title last year even though they were faced with a bunch of injuries. Stud tight end Jermichael Finley went down after only two games. The same goes for starting running back Ryan Grant, who went down in the same game. John Kuhn is the best small college fullback in the league…a possibly small group (we don’t research) but still something to be proud of. But seriously he is actually one of the best fullbacks in the league. Jordy Nelson might not be the flashiest receiver but he gets the job done, Donald Driver is older than the coaches but can still ball and Greg Jennings is a top five receiver in the league. So they have a great quarterback, great receivers and backs—the exact combo you need to score points and win games. On the defensive side of the ball, Clay Matthews is the best football playing Fabio look-alike.

Locks of hair.

Charles Woodson and Tramon Williams pair up to be the best cornerback tandem in the league. And they only get better with that front seven we just talked about. The loss of Nick Collins will hurt, but the Pack has more than enough talent to cover for his vacancy. And Green Bay could have just as good of a special teams returner as Chicago does. Packers’ rookie Randall Cobb is tied for the longest return touchdown (in which he could only be tackled by his own teammate in the endzone).

Q&A:

  1. With the new targets of Roy Williams and rookie Dane Sanzenbacher, will Jay Cutler be the third straight QB to throw for 400+ yards against this Packers secondary, which just lost Pro Bowler Nick “The Pick” Collins?

Let’s look back to the first two games of the season for Chicago. Jay Culter has thrown for 556 yards in the two previous games this season. That isn’t very good. Especially when you consider that Matt Forte has only ran the ball 26 times (for 117 yards). As we stated above, the Bears offense isn’t their strong suit, but it takes just one play for Chicago to gain a bunch of yards. Forte had a 56 yard reception against Atlanta, Devin Hester caught a screen pass and turned it into a 53 yarder. Johnny Knox has 30 and 25 yarders. The Bears can move the ball in big chunks, which will be the key for Jay getting 400 yards. The Packers’ defense won’t give Chicago many chances so they’ll have to make the ones they do get count.

2. How does the GB special teams unit plan to contain the always dangerous, Devin Hester?

Well, Green Bay gets help from the new 35-yard line kickoff…which is the dumbest rule since my parents made me go to bed at 8:30 (it’s not safer because returners are now taking more risks coming out of the endzone. If you want safe, start at the 20 yard line. But they won’t do that because they they’ll lose guaranteed commercial breaks). Anyway, Hester hasn’t been great returning this year, but he is always due for a TD, and an amazing one at that. He has two punt returns for 10 yards and 5 kick returns for 100 yards (29 long). That isn’t anything special. The best way for the Pack to contain Devin is to keep it away from him. Kick it out of the endzone on kickoffs and directionally punt it so he can’t get a good return. That is easier said than done, right Matt Dodge?

3. The loss of Cullen Jenkins in the offseason to the “dream team” was a big hit to the defensive line. Now with the heir apparent to his starting role, Mike Neal down with an injury, how will GB stop the CHI run game?

This may not be a problem for the Packers. The Bears have run the ball only 39 times in the two games, less than 20 per contest. Mike Martz normally has a great offensive game plan, but he will have to mix it up to keep the Packers defense guessing. But perhaps the fact that they threw the ball 77 times will work in the running games favor. Another thing working in the favor of Green Bay, and possibly a reason Martz has been less willing to run, is Chicago’s horrid offensive line. Their line sucks…I’ll say it—especially when Gabe Carimi and Lance Louis are out (that’s the right side of their o-line).

4. Will the Bears offensive line, which has allowed a league high in sacks, be able to slow down Green Bay’s rushing defense, one of the best in the league?

My initial thought is no. As stated above, the Bears are missing the starting right side of their line—a line that wasn’t great to begin with. Olin Kreutz left after being with the team from their inception in 1919. He was a big loss, as he kept people in the right position and was a coach on the field. Now it is Jay Cutler coaching from his back. B.J. Raji is a like two men in the middle of that line, and when you add the secondary into the equation it is probably going to be a long day for Cutler.  I fully expect Clay Matthews to have eight sacks by the end of this game, and Kristin Cavallari’s phone number.

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One Response to “Rivalry Renewed: The Greatest Sports Rivalry”

  1. jaysjems1141 Says:

    This is an awesome article and brings up many good points. Keep up the good work!

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