It wasn't pretty, but it was expected that the Packers would beat up on the Chicago Bears last Sunday and eventually they did. By a score of 34 - 21, the Pack prevailed on a day when a loss would have almost surely ended the Pack's 2003 playoff hopes. With the win, the Packers have now won 18 of their last 20 meetings with Da Bears. Those numbers are kind of amazing considering the intensity of this long rivalry. Seasoned cheeseheads will remember the fierce defensive battles of yesteryear with the monsters of the midway and then savor the current trend.
The Packers started out Sunday in lethargic mode, in similar fashion as their Thanksgiving Day debacle in Detroit. They spotted the Bears a 14 - 0 lead with a couple of boneheaded plays before the Packer defense took over and basically took control of the game. The defense, which has improved incredibly since the beginning of the season, held the Bears in check the remainder of the game and the Packer offense eventually found their course. Aaron Kampman played like he has a great future in the Packer defensive line and Na'il Diggs also played with reckless abandon. Mike McKenzie came up with a couple of huge plays including an interception for a 90-yard TD return which sealed the fate for Da Bears.
I don't know what to make of the Packer's offensive game plans this year. At times their running game looks unstoppable. At times the play calling seems predictable. At times I wonder how well the game plan matches the talents of the Packers' young receiver corps. I wonder how Brett Favre's broken thumb affects his play. It is difficult to analyze. What is consistent this year is the inconsistency of the Packer offense. On Sunday the Packers chose to grind out a total of 97 yards on 38 attempts. That wasn't a great performance given the talents of Ahman Green and the Packer offensive line, but it did beat the Bears into submission.
Receivers Robert Ferguson and Javon Walker continue to impress. Walker has a huge body and great speed. It appears that he is developing swagger and confidence. Ferguson is one tough dude. He is a fearless over-the-middle receiver and an awesome downfield blocker. He is also a stud on special teams kick coverage and shows good instincts as a kickoff returner. The Pack should utilize the talents of these guys a little more methinks.
So the Packers are still in the hunt for the playoffs, even though the Vikings won this past week too. It appears that the Pack's best hope for a spot in post-season play is to win the North Division outright. To do that, they will need some help from the Vikings' opponents, starting with the Bears next week. The Packers travel to San Diego to play the Chargers next week and, of course, they must continue to win their games. The Chargers aren't much better than the Bears this year, but they do have a stud running back in LaDainian Tomlinson. Only a few backs in the NFL are better than Tomlinson (Ahman Green is one, though) so the Pack better be ready for him and put a halt to their inexplicable tendency of sleepwalking during the 1st quarter.
The Pack probably sealed the fate of the Bears' pathetic management staff with the win Sunday, but maybe not. If the Bears beat the Vikings next week, maybe the Bears' coaching staff will not have to walk the plank at the end of this season. Under that scenario, they might be around for the Packers to feed off their mediocrity again next year. So"¦ go Bears next week!! As for the Pack, look for a return to the power running game against a marginal San Diego defense, as Ahman Green prepares to shatter the Packer single-season rushing record. The Pack should win big next week, but that would be consistent thinking.