To Packer fans, this is the game that matters

Chicago Bears fans cheer their team as they play the Seattle Seahawks during the fourth quarter of the NFC divisional playoff at Soldier Field in Chicago on January 16, 2011. The Bears won 35-24. UPI/Brian Kersey

As this week has progressed and it has finally hit me that my beloved Packers are really playing for a Super Bowl berth on Sunday, I’ve realized something — beating the Bears on Sunday is more important than a potential matchup with the Steelers or Jets in two weeks.

In other words, if someone guaranteed me that Green Bay would win on Sunday, but it would mean a guaranteed loss in the Super Bowl, I’d be all right with that. I’d take that guaranteed win over our arch-rival instead of letting this four-team tournament play itself out.

Why? Because if the Packers lose, Bears fans will be insufferable. Chicago will probably go on to lose to whichever AFC team wins on Sunday, but it won’t matter. Bears fans will gloat about how they knocked the Packers out, and how nobody gave them any respect, and how Jay Cutler is headed to the Hall of Fame, and how Mike Martz is a genius, and how a dynasty is forming, etc.

What’s funny is that there was a point in the not-too-distant past (circa 2005) where Green Bay/Chicago wasn’t really a rivalry anymore. Sure, there was a long history between the two teams, but the Bears stunk from 1992 to 2004, going a collective 85-123 (.409), and had just three winning seasons during that span. The Packers, of course, won multiple division titles and went to two Super Bowls, winning one. I remember telling people that I actually felt sorry for the Bears. I was more worried about Daunte Culpepper, Randy Moss and the Vikings.

But the Bears are back to respectability, and this game has to really worry Packer fans. Green Bay is a 3.5-point favorite, the game is on the road, Soldier Field is a mess (which will limit the GB offense), it’s going to be cold, and the Bears can play the “no one respects us” card. Aaron Rodgers is (justifiably) being elevated to “elite QB” status after his performance down the stretch, and there’s a chance that bubble will burst as the Packer offense devolves into the inconsistent unit that we’ve seen throughout the season. (Thirteen points against Washington? Nine against the Jets? Three against the Lions? Three?!?)

Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers (12) runs into the end zone past Atlanta Falcons linebacker Curtis Lofton for a touchdown in the 3rd quarter during their NFC Divisional NFL playoff football game in Atlanta January 15, 2011. REUTERS/Rich Addicks (UNITED STATES – Tags: SPORT FOOTBALL)

Chicago is a pretty solid team that could pull the upset on any given Sunday, especially at home. But the bottom line is that if Calvin Johnson’s non-TD TD catch would have counted in Week 1, the Bears wouldn’t have made the playoffs. (GB would have won the division and the Giants would have won the Wild Card with their regular season win against Chicago. The Giants had ten sacks in that game, by the way.) Then the Bears drew Seattle, probably the worst playoff team ever to win a playoff game. Meanwhile, the Falcons were forced to play arguably the best (or at least the hottest) team in the NFC, just because they were the #6 seed.

The Bears have played a great schedule, faced a number of injured QBs, and drew a great first matchup in the playoffs. The Packers have 15 players on injured reserve, weathered a late-season concussion that knocked Rodgers out of a game and a half, and have been playing sudden death football since Week 16. Green Bay seems destined to go to the Super Bowl, but Chicago can stomp all those good feelings out with a win on Sunday.

And really, there would be nothing worse.

Follow the Scores Report editors on Twitter @clevelandteams and @bullzeyedotcom.

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