Wednesday, January 19, 2011
CHICAGO BEARS PLAYOFF ODYSSEY: The Seahawks Were Who We Thought They Were.
Man, only the 2010 Chicago Bears. Only this team could have somehow landed in a situation where they could pretty convincingly bludgeon an opponent in the second round of the playoffs, but still have a huge "well, BUT..." hanging over it. Because no matter how blown-out-of-proportion things got regarding the Seahawks after the Saints game, they were still a 7-9 team struggling to not get trampled by the other five real teams and lamenting the fact that one stupid game against the Rams cost them a pretty good spot in the 2011 Draft. Which was a draft pick they really needed, because well, they aren't very good. Still, the week prior to the game ended up being funny as hell, because an 11-5 team beating up on a 7-9 team was going to be much of a story, so all you heard all week was all the various and sundry ways that the Seahawks were going to blow past the Bears, then immediately followed by the exact opposite once it was time to put in an official prediction for the game. And after about the fifteenth guy saying, "well, Marshawn Lynch is a monstrous thunder god from hell, the Bears cannot hope to stop the buzzsaw that is the rejuvenated Matt Hasselbeck, and Cutler is sure to throw at least nine picks - So I'll say Bears 38, Seahawks 10," it gets a little comical.
I can't get real specific on what happened, since scheduling conflicts meant I only caught the last five minutes, where the Seahawks scored a couple late touchdowns that meant nothing, while Bear defenders were waving to people in the crowd or whatever. All I know is that Marshawn Lynch ran for more losses than positive gains, and despite saying all week that they were kicking to Devin Hester, they totally didn't, which saves Pete Carroll from unseating Josh McDaniels as the dumbest head coach of 2010. But the game happened, the Bears won like they were supposed to, and they're set to play a home game against the Packers for the NFC Championship, which actually means something now, since it no longer appears to be a contest to see who gets steamrolled by the Patriots in February.
But anyway, here we are. The Green Bay Packers, the oldest rivalry in the NFL, frozen tundra, Lombardi, Halas, that asshole that put Jim McMahon out for the season in 1986 and cost us a Super Bowl repeat, etc. and so on. When Lovie Smith got hired, the first words out of his mouth were about beating the Packers, but this time, it actually means something. And man, I don't know. I just don't know. After everything else this year, all the lucky breaks, finally putting Favre down, making the playoffs after a start that made this look like a 4-12 team, this is almost too perfect of a situation. A game against the Packers as close to "for all the marbles" as a game against a conference rival can get.
And I know the Bears can beat the Packers. With the shitty early-season Bears of every-other-play sacks they managed to do it, and in week 17, they came within a touchdown of doing it, even with Mike Martz's retarded second half and otherwise trying to be as bland as possible to not give any good game film to playoff opponents. And yeah, this is a home game and all, but man. The Packers just got done butchering a Falcons team that I don't think the Bears could have beaten, and even if they did put Michael Vick, Matt Ryan, and Drew Brees in the Pro Bowl ahead of him, Aaron Rodgers might be the best QB in football, and not just because there are technically only four left at this point. And going the Raven Mack NFLuminati conspiracy route, with Brett Favre gone, Peyton Manning fading, Ben Roethlisberger being a rapist, Michael Vick being Dog Hitler, Matt Ryan being his town's second-favorite QB behind Dog Hitler, Drew Brees suddenly becoming Captain Interception, Tom Brady being too much of a poncing ladyboy for mainstream consumption, and Mark Sanchez being dreamy but not all that great at football, Aaron Rodgers seems primed and ready to be next in line as the "face of the league" guy for endorsement deals to be thrown at and whose balls TV announcers tongue-bathe. So if it's all rigged, the Packers are winning the Super Bowl this year, which means that somewhere in Wisconsin, thousands of front-running assholes are going into their closets right now, digging past their Jets and Vikings #4 jerseys to find the Packers #12 with the tags still on it, that they had to pretend to be excited about when their aunt gave it to them, Christmas 2007.
So there are just so damn many reason why this game scares me. Part of me thinks it's too close to call, and part of me doesn't want to make any sort of prediction, because of how painful the thought of it would be. Because even if the Bears don't find some way to win the Super Bowl this year, we've still got many, many years of Lovie Smith and Jerry Angelo ahead of us; many years of denying the obvious when the obvious doesn't fit what the Buccaneers were doing in 2001, and many years of fixing the offensive line by drafting undersized defensive ends from small schools, four rounds too early. So this is probably the only shot the Bears will have at the big game for at least another decade. But fortunately, there's a third part of me, and that part takes the form of a slobbering fan boy FUCK YEAAAH BEAR DOWN CHICAGO BEARS.
Prediction: Bears 739, Packers -8.