Being a Chicago sports fan living in Minnesota can definitely have its advantages, but it can also have it's disadvantages. Minnesota fans are as fair weather as they come, and misery loves company, so when their teams are doing well, they are as rabid and as obnoxious a fan base as there is, but when their teams are stinking up the joint (like the Twins, Wild, Timberwolves, and predictably, the Vikings, are), they stoop to levels of hating and self team loathing that borders on the level of psychotic.
After the Vikings' overtime win against Jacksonville last Sunday, there is a level of nervous optimism about this years Vikings season that is sure to turn to gloom and doom the second they lose to the rebuilding Indianapolis Colts and #1 overall draft pick Andrew Luck. Once that happens, all the Vikings fan's attention will be geared, once again, towards hating the success that the Bears seem headed towards. Vikings fans have always hated the Packers, but since the Packers have gotten the best of Minnesota for the majority of their so-called "rivalry", they are used to the Packers being successful, but these Vikings fans seem remiss to accept that this year's Bears team is poised for a Super Bowl run, even maybe even more so than their hated rival in Green Bay, while this years Vikings team is almost certainly headed to another top 10 draft pick.
Tonite is where the rubber meets the road. Da Bears DO NOT win the NFC North this year unless they beat the Green Bay Packers on the road in Lambeau tonight. The Bears have been confident, and borderline cocky this week in pressers. They're been talking the talk, but can they now walk the walk? From the additions of big-bodied receivers Brandon Marshall and rookie Alshon Jeffery, to bruising running back Michael Bush, this years Bears seem finally talented enough offensively to actually compete in a shootout with offenses in the league as prolific as the likes of Green Bay, New England, & New Orleans.
Contrary to what anyone will tell you: Cutler has something to prove tonight. In seven total games against the Packers that Cutler has played, he has won a whopping ONE game against them. Yeah, one game. The Packers have owned Cutler, but there is a silver lining to that cloud. The Dec. 25 2011 game notwithstanding, where Bears 3rd string quarterback Josh McCown lost to the Packers 35-21, the Bears have not lost to the Packers by more than 10 points in the Jay Cutler era, and that is with high powered offense that the Packers possess. The Bears defense has been able to keep them in the game, and now the Bears have an offense that can sit at the big boy table with the defense and special teams, and actually win games FOR them. The 41 points the Bears offense scored against the Colts on Sunday is the most points scored by a Bears offense (not counting defensive and special teams scores) since 1989. Another interesting stat I've discovered in recent days is that the Bears are an amazing 18-0 in games where the Bears have gained a 10 point lead with Jay Cutler at quarterback, so in my mind, the key number to reach in tonight's game is: get a 10 point lead, and everything else will take care of itself.
The Bears are talking smack. They're inviting the Packers defensive backs to play physical, to play press coverage, to play man to man. Receiver Brandon Marshall even famously said, "we do welcome that." Well, Brandon, so do Bears fans. So does the city of Chicago. The Bears have been almost good for a long time, now it's time to get over the hump. The shape of the NFC North title race gets molded tonight in Lambeau Field. There is much more pressure to win tonite on the Bears than the Packers. This is as much of a "must win" as the Bears will probably face all season.
From an AFC scout: "There will be no average with this team. They are either going to be really, really good or implode. They're the only team in the NFL that I can see either in the Super Bowl or win four or five games.
Myself, personally would prefer the Super Bowl. In the swaggadocious words of Jay Cutler, "good luck."