January 22nd, 2011
by bearsbacker

The Packers and Bears square off on Sunday at Soldier Field in the NFC Championship. The winner goes to Dallas for the Super Bowl.

I will tell you the five players on the Green Bay Packers team that need to play big, in order for them to win.

1. RB James Starks

He has been the workhorse so far this post-season for the Packers. He has taken most of Brandon Jackson’s carries away. In the wild card round against Philadelphia, Starks had 23 rushes for 123 yards, averaging 5.3 ypc. That’s pretty impressive. But against Atlanta in the divisional round, Starks had 25 rushes for only 66 yards, averaging 2.6 ypc.

If the Packers want to control the time of possession, Starks has to have the game that he did in Philadelphia. I expect him to be able to have some success, but the Bears run defense is pretty good, he could find himself struggling once again.

2. LB Clay Matthews

In two games this season against the Bears, Matthews has made five tackles and one sack.  He finished the season with 14 sacks. He had two sacks against the Falcons last week in the divisional round. Pressure from the linebackers is something the Packers had success with back in week 17 against the Bears. The Packers sacked the Bears six times in that match-up, and Matthews made one of those. Look for Matthews and the rest of the Packers defense to blitz a lot on Sunday. Matthews will be a key player for the Packers, if he can rattle Bears QB Jay Cutler that will be huge for them.

3. WR James Jones

He had arguably his best season since 07-08, with 50 catches and five touchdowns, but he is still vulnerable with the ball after the catch. In five career games, Jones has caught 15 passes for 177 yards, but he has fumbled three times in those five games, including once in the week 3 match up in Chicago. He might not play very well at Soldier Field because the grass is horrible.

Jones will be considered a weak link if the Bears can force some fumbles out of him. Jones has to be protective of the ball in this one because Green Bay can’t afford anything stupid.

4. OL Bryan Bulaga

Bulaga is the rookie right tackle for the Packers. He struggled in the week three match-up at Soldier Field against the Bears. Him and his fellow offensive linemen struggled in that game. The Packers as a team committed 18 penalties a franchise record. They committed more penalties (18) than points scored (17) in that game. Bulaga will have to play much better in this rematch at Soldier Field if the Packers want to take control.

5. Mason Crosby

Kickers don’t usually make the list of most important players, especially in an NFC Championship, but I think this game could be decided by a field goal. Crosby kicks field goals at a 78% clip, compared to Bears kicker Robbie Gould who is kicks field goals at a 85% clip.

If I could pick between the two to kick the game winner, I would definitely pick Robbie Gould. Crosby will have to be ready for a kicker battle if this game is close in the end. Crosby against Gould is a match-up not many fans will be looking at, so I’m telling you to pay attention to it.

Honorable Mentions:

WR Donald Driver

CB Charles Woodson

NT B.J. Raji

CB/PR Tramon Williams

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