Well, for the first time since my first year in Texas, the Chicago Bears are in the NFC Championship.
Last time in 2007, I was able to watch the game in a sports book in Las Vegas. That was exciting — and profitable.
This year, I’m staying at home in front of the 50-inch HD screen. No friends, no kiddo, no one to distract me from the game.
I’ll be wearing my new lucky shirt and my Devin Hester jersey. I’ll be tweeting during the game (@joshuabuckley) so be sure to follow along as I either have a heart attack or go into a deep depression.
With that said, here is my breakdown and picks for Sunday’s championship games.
BEARS OFFENSE vs. PACKERS DEFENSE
Chicago’s offensive line struggled early in the season, but has played a lot better recently. However, they are still going to have difficulty stopping Green Bay’s 3-4 blitz.
Cutler is going to get sacked three to four times. That’s a given. The question is can Cutler take advantage of the blitz when he does get enough time to throw in the pocket? The poor field conditions could slow down the Packers’ coverage and give Cutler some openings to get the ball to his receivers downfield.
I like that Greg Olsen is more involved in the game plan and I expect him to have a big game again. Matt Forte should also have a strong performance, especially on screen passes.
Still, I’d say the Bears aren’t going to score more than 21 points against the Green Bay defense.
PACKERS OFFENSE vs. BEARS DEFENSE
There is no doubt that Aaron Rodgers is playing out of his mind right now. He picked apart the Falcons and his receivers are top notch.
However, the Bears present a problem for Rodgers. For one, they can pressure the Packers QB just rushing their front four. That allows for seven in coverage most passing downs.
Chicago also isn’t going to give up the big play. It keeps everything in front of the safeties and makes teams dink and dunk their way down the field.
In the second half, I think the Packers get a little impatient and will try and force a few passes downfield. That’s when the Bears will create a turnover or two, which could put their offense in great shape.
Two words — Devin. Hester.
Two more words — Robbie. Gould.
I could see most of the scoring in this game come down to the fourth quarter, when both teams will be going a little more no-huddle. I like the Bears’ special teams a lot better, so expect Hester to have a big return, which gives Chicago good field position late. Gould knocks in a 46-yard field goal with less than a minute left to put the Bears into the Super Bowl.
Chicago 20, Green Bay 17
I’m lazy, so all you get is a prediction with this game.
The Steelers are beat up on the offensive line, which is going to hurt them when the Jets start blitzing. Rapelisberger will probably get one or two big plays downfield, but New York should be able to stop the passing game for the most part.
So the key is Mark Sanchez and the Jets’ offense against Troy Polamalu and the Steelers’ defense. Polamalu is not healthy, as was evidenced by his horrible performance against the Ravens last week. That gives the Jets a big advantage.
Santonio Holmes catches a big touchdown in the third quarter and the Jets’ defense holds on for the win and the AFC title.
New York 24, Pittsburgh 13
Chicago vs. New York could be quite an interesting Super Bowl. Let’s see if that is indeed what we get.
• Still having trouble getting into college basketball this season. Pittsburgh and San Diego State are intriguing, but I still haven’t found a team that is can’t miss. Any suggestions from hardcore college hoops fans?
• COBRA health insurance card finally arrived. That means if I won’t be completely fucked if I get in an accident.
• According to CNBC sports business reporter Darren Rovell (a must follow on Twitter – @darrenrovell) report the beer brand with the biggest one-year sales jump was Dos Equis at 24 percent. No doubt, the “Most Interesting Man in the World” advertising campaign is one of the best.
• My favorite stat keeper Ethan informed me that a Which Wich could be coming to Clear Lake within six months. O. M. G.
Bear Down and Keep the Faith!