Countdown to NFC Championship Game: 24 Hours
All over the web, you see things like “Tale of the Tape” to compare the two teams vying for the NFC Championship, the Packers and the Bears—almost ad nauseam. So I want to do something different here—I want to talk about certain factors, other than the coaches and players specifically, that could effect the game on Sunday.
1) The officiating crew. Terry Macauley and his crew were the officials during the Week 3 matchup between the Packers and the Bears. In that game, the Packers were called for 18 penalties. Now, before we get carried away on some sort of conspiracy theory, lets remember two things: a) The crew Macauley will be working with isn’t his crew from the season—its a crew of all officials who graded out the highest during the season—an All-Star crew, if you will. So the umpires and line judges who called most of those penalties are probably different guys; and b) An objective person watching that game would be quick to point out that the officiating crew probably missed another 10 holding calls on the Packers. Still, it bears watching—will this crew, after hearing premature criticism this week after what happened in the Week 3 matchup, call this one extra loose?
2) Takeaways. For the Bears, its the Jay Cutler-ill-advised pass-into triple coverage. For the Packers, its the Wide Receiver-gets-stripped-from behind. Both have plagued these teams at the most inopportune of moments this season. Who can avoid the costly mistake?
3) Weather. Strangely, when you look at both offenses, they have been built more like teams that play indoors or down south rather than outdoors, January in the Midwest. Both teams have played really well in inclement weather this season; and both teams have had a stinker in the cold weather. The forecast for Sunday is 20 degrees, with a slight chance of snow—which team will be less affected come Sunday?