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Packers Bears Line and Spread for NFC Championship

The first of two Sunday championship games, this match will determine the winner of the NFC when the No. 6 Green Bay Packers (10-6) will be traveling to the Windy City to take on the No. 2 Chicago Bears (11-5). This game will feature big-time players such as Aaron Rodgers, Clay Matthews and Charles Woodson for the Packers and Jay Cutler, Julius Peppers and Brian Urlacher for the Bears. When these two teams met in week 17, the Packers needed a win to make the playoffs and they pulled out a tough 10 – 3 victory in Green Bay. That game saw just 27 first downs and a near 50/50 split in time of possession. Both teams have had their ups and downs this season on the defensive side. Both teams struggled against the Patriots, and the Bears struggled to keep the Jets out of the end zone, while the Packers shut them out. This game could go both ways. The added drama of this being the NFC Championship game should make both teams come out and play harder than they have all season.

Spread and Betting Line Comparison Chart:

Betting Site
Spread
Over/Under Line
Visit Site
BetED.com
Packers -3.5 (-120)
43.5
Sportsbook.com
Packers -3.5 (-110)
43.5
Bodog.com
Packers -4 (-105)
44

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After an impressive 21-16 win over the Philadelphia Eagles in the first round of the playoffs and a dismantling of the heavy weight Atlanta Falcons at home in the divisional, the Packers now have to play the road team once again, this time in Chicago against the tenacious Bears. The Packers are playing some of their best ball lately, as quarterback Aaron Rodgers has been nearly flawless, throwing eight touchdowns to one interception in the last three games. Rodgers has been this playoffs biggest star thus far. With the victory in Philadelphia and the dismantling of the top seeded Atlanta Falcons, Rodgers has given Packers fans their biggest Super Bowl hope since the late 90’s. They were successful in the 2000’s, but with the gun slinging Hall of Famer, Brett Favre (who did bring home one Lombardi trophy), you never knew how many times he’d give the ball away. Rodgers has completed 78% of his passes this postseason, good for 546 yards and 6 touchdowns. He’s scored an additional rushing touchdown and has just 1 turnover. Since missing the week 15 game against New England, Rodgers has been incredible. Over the 4 games since the injury, including the playoffs, Rodgers has thrown for 1,179 yards with 11 touchdowns, and only 2 turnovers. With their backs against the wall, fighting for a playoff spot, and then playing on the road in two difficult stadiums, Rodgers has shown he has the makeup to be mentioned with the upper echelon of quarterbacks. The defense seems to be its strongest of the season, and I could see the unit giving Jay Cutler and the Bears some trouble. The good news for the Pack is the Bears showed they can indeed be beat in the second half of the season, losing 10-3 in Week 17 to the Packers themselves. Green Bay is ranked No. 18 against the run largely because of the injuries up front on defense. The Packers have a blitz-scheming defense and can occasionally get caught in a pressure call when a run play is called. They did a nice job against LeSean McCoy two weeks ago, but he’s a quick back who had only 12 carries. When the Packers lost running back Ryan Grant in the season opener, they basically lost their entire rushing attack, which plummeted to No. 24 in the NFL. Along comes rookie James Starks last week for 23 carries and 123 yards, and the Packers suddenly have balance. Chicago is an underrated rush defense that finished 10th in the NFL. The last time these teams met, Rodgers was the leading Packers rusher. Chicago was 5-2 this year when opposing teams rushed for more than 100 yards, and the Bears will be willing to let Starks have some production before they give up their pass defense with Rodgers and those terrific receivers.

Cutler had one of his worst games of the season against these Packers back in Week 17 when the two teams met here in the Windy City. He went just 17-of-39 for 290 yards, and though he wasn’t charged with a turnover on the day, he did fumble once and was nailed for a four sacks that really changed the face of the game in the third quarter. The former Vanderbilt Commodore was picked off 16 times this year in essentially just 14 total games, and though these numbers aren’t as bad as they were a year ago, he is still prone to that nauseating game that he must avoid for Chicago to advance. Jay Cutler has had an inconsistent season. He led the Bears to a first round bye in just his second year on the team. Cutler improved his overall play with Mike Martz as the offensive coordinator, but he still turns the ball over too much for to be called an elite quarterback. He gave the ball away 22 times this season, but did well to protect the ball against the Seahawks on Sunday. In that game, he threw for 274 yards, rushed for 43 yards, and combined for 4 touchdowns. He was the leader the Bears were hoping he’d be when acquired from the Denver Broncos. Chicago silenced their critics, clinching the NFC North and earning a bye in the first round of the playoffs, while many picked them to finish no better than third in the division. Lovie Smith’s controversial move of bringing in offensive coordinator Mike Martz has paid huge dividends. Martz’s offense seems to be a better fit for quarterback Jay Cutler as he went from zero to hero in just one offseason. Cutler has completed 60.4 percent of his passes for 3,274 yards with 23 touchdowns and 16 interceptions compared to 26 interceptions in 2009. Besides Cutler’s turnaround, the running game seems to have finally found its footing under Martz’s system, as Matt Forte looks like a different player than he was a year ago, rushing for 1,069 yards and six touchdowns on the ground while catching 51 passes for 547 yards and three more scores. Wide out Johnny Knox had 960 receiving yards for five touchdowns and Earl Bennet had 46 catches for 561 yards, while Greg Olen caught 41 passes and had five touchdowns and Devin Hester caught 40 passes for 475 yards and four touchdowns — all benefactors of Cutler’s monster year. Defensively, the Bears allowed 17.9 points and 314.3 yards per game and are led by veteran mean machine Brian Urlacher who returned from his injury showing he has plenty left in the tank, finishing the season with 125 tackles and four sacks. The acquisition of DE Julius Peppers paid off for the Bears. The 9-year veteran had eight sacks and 54 TFL. The secondary was solid, as Charles Tillman and Chris Harris each had five interceptions, and D.J. Moore had four of the Bears 21 total.

Packers vs Bears Early Lines:

Spread:

Green Bay Packers -3.5
@ Chicago Bears +3.5

Game Total Line:

Over (-110)
44
Under (-110)

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A very interesting line indeed. The Packers have looked quite powerful and capable playing on the road all postseason long, but I have my doubts if that play merits a -3.5 point spread over a home Bears club. The Packers did beat this same Bears club in the last game of the regular season but Chicago had virtually little to play for and some of the starters were being sat early in the fourth quarter. As of this point we see that the betting public is basically 3 to 1 in favor of the Packers covering. The Bears have a few injury concerns that will become clearer as the week progresses and I expect this line to recede. For those who believe the Bears can avenge their week 17 loss to this club and get to Dallas in February then wait out the week, expect the line to drop to -2.5. As for the OVER/UNDER, it may seem a bit high for an NFC Championship contest but both of these clubs have every bit of potential to his this number, no matter the significance of the tilt.

So bring on the Packers, who lost to the Bears 33-14 at Wrigley Field on Dec. 14, 1941 in their only previous playoff meeting. Green Bay beat Chicago 10-3 in the season finale to clinch a playoff spot earlier this month. The Packers haven’t been to the Super Bowl since the 1997 season, when they lost to Denver. Green Bay is 4-1 SU in its last 5 games and is 4-2 SU in its last 6 games when playing Chicago. They are also 2-4 SU in its last 6 games when playing on the road against Chicago and 13-4 SU in its last 17 games when playing on the road against the Windy City bunch. Chicago is 8-2 SU in its last 10 games and 4-1 SU in its last 5 games at home. Chicago is 2-4 ATS in its last 6 games when playing Green Bay and 3-9 ATS in its last 12 games when playing at home against the Cheeseheads.

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