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Packers At Bears: When Green Bay Has The Ball

Aaron Rodgers’ (546 passing yards, 6 TD, 0 INT in playoffs) terrific play in this year’s playoffs has been an extension of the standout quarterback’s excellent finish to the regular season, and he’ll be entering Sunday’s tilt having compiled a 125.0 passer rating and a stellar 22-to-2 touchdown-to-interception ratio over his last nine games. He has no shortage of capable targets to throw to as well, with the wide receiver quartet of Greg Jennings (9 receptions), Donald Driver (11 receptions, 132 yards), Jones (5 receptions, 2 TD) and Jordy Nelson (8 receptions, 1 TD) all gaining 75 yards or more and combining for 26 catches in last week’s rout of Atlanta. Jennings was the group’s most dangerous member during the regular season, amassing 1,265 receiving yards and 12 touchdowns while garnering a Pro Bowl citation, but the 35-year-old Driver came up with 14 catches in the two earlier meetings with Chicago and has been Green Bay’s most productive player thus far in the postseason. An inconsistent running game that ranked a lackluster 24th (100.4 ypg) in the regular season has gotten a huge boost in the playoffs from rookie James Starks (an nFL-best 189 rushing yards in the playoffs), who helped key the win over Philadelphia by churning out 123 rushing yards on 23 carries. The Bears must also be aware of Rodgers’ mobility out of the pocket, as his 356 rushing yards were the third- most among league quarterbacks this year.

Expect the Packers to try to attack the Bears through the air using their multiple-receiver sets, since they didn’t rush for more than 63 yards in their two battles with a rugged Chicago defense that yielded the second-fewest yards on the ground (90.1 ypg) over the course of the regular season. Linebackers Brian Urlacher (125 tackles, 4 sacks, 1 INT) and Lance Briggs (89 tackles, 2 sacks, 2 INT) each received Pro Bowl honors as the team’s top two stoppers, while havoc-wreaking end Julius Peppers (54 tackles, 8 sacks, 2 INT) has also been a force against the run in addition to maintaining his status as one of the game’s premier pass rushers. The offseason acquisition, along with versatile counterpart Israel Idonije (49 tackles, 8 sacks), will be in charge of bringing the heat upon Rodgers, who was sacked only twice in the two previous matchups between these teams, and tackle Tommie Harris (13 tackles, 1.5 sacks) could also help out in that area after the puzzling former Pro Bowler notched two sacks against Seattle last week. Cornerback Charles Tillman (82 tackles, 5 INT, 14 PD) heads up a stout secondary that surrendered only 14 touchdown passes over the 16-game schedule and produced 21 interceptions, with free safety Chris Harris (70 tackles) generating five picks over the final nine weeks. He exited the Seattle win with a hip pointer, but is expected to be available for Sunday’s test.

— Sports Network