Well, here it is — it all comes down to this. With the NFC North division on the line, the Chicago Bears and Green Bay Packers — one of the most historic and long-standing rivalries in all of sports — take the field against each other along the lakefront at Soldier Field.
It won’t be bitter cold with wind chills near zero degrees like the past few days in the Chicagoland area for the game, but it’s supposed to be snowing and in the 20s during game time. Truly, it’s setting up for a classic showdown for any die hard and traditional football fan, especially for a Bears or Packers’ fan, as they cherish the harsh climates.
However, this isn’t a traditional matchup by any means for these two teams. The Bears’ defense is one of the worst of the league; the so-called Monsters of the Midway couldn’t scare a nine-year-old girl running the football between the tackles. And their offense, though pitiful like the rest of the team last Sunday in Philly, has been one of the best in the league, and certainly among the most prolific in Bears history.
On the other side of the field, the Packers have a similar setup. A poor defense, though not as bad as the Bears, but will be missing Clay Matthews today, and an offense that will likely be able to light up the scoreboard with relative ease — even if it is Aaron Rodgers‘ first game back.
No, this definitely isn’t your grandmother’s Bears-Packers game; heck, it’s not even your mother’s … Or your older sister’s.
The offenses will dictate this game more than anything, and it could very well be a shootout. From a Bears fan’s perspective, it’s not an ideal situation. But really, does it matter if they win?
I have to admit, it’s been tough to watch this team in 2013. I’ve watched every second of Bears football other than the second half of last week — after watching the first, I decided Call of Duty seemed like a less depressing use of my time. Their defense is beyond awful. They’re giving up over 150 yards per game on the ground alone, something unheard of by a Chicago defensive unit, and are allowing just a shade under 30 points a contest.
Obviously, one would think beating the Packers and making playoffs would be great for this team, and as a fan, it’s hard to not want that going into the game. But is this team going to do anything at all if they make the playoffs? No. They’re not. They just aren’t good enough and have too many holes on the defensive side to beat a good team like the Seattle Seahawks or Carolina Panthers.
Naturally, my next question is would it be in their best interest to win today? To be completely honest and realistic: No.
If they lose, they get a much better draft pick, which will be huge this year because they need help if they’re going to build a team that can actually contend in 2014. They also don’t have to get any more hopes up by continuing to play and disappointing. For the team’s sake, losing actually provides the best long-run benefits.
Of course, on the other hand, winning is more fun. Winning establishes credibility with the second-year GM Phil Emery and first-year HC Marc Trestman. Winning maybe means the Bears and their fan base could gain some trust back in Jay Cutler, which means they wouldn’t have to find a new QB this offseason or the next. Winning means the Packers don’t make the playoffs again, and Bears fans get to care about the season for a little bit longer, even if it is futile.
So, yes, if they lose today, it won’t be the end of the world, and it may actually be the best thing for them moving forward. However, that doesn’t mean I won’t be praying for a Bears win today as if a higher power wants my team to win more than the other. I’ll be rooting for victory just like every other person who bleeds navy blue and orange.
But at the end of the day, win or lose, I won’t be too elated or upset because both have their benefits.
Regardless of the outcome on this last NFL Sunday of the regular season, all I have to say is — Bear Down.