Packers will play Bears in NFC Championship

Posted by Mike Spofford on January 16, 2011 – 3:24 pm

The Packers will travel to Chicago to take on the archrival Bears in the NFC Championship Game next Sunday, Jan. 23.

The game is slated for 2 p.m. CST at Soldier Field and will be televised on FOX.

The Bears (12-5), who are the NFC’s No. 2 seed, advanced by virtue of their 35-24 victory over the Seattle Seahawks on Sunday in the Divisional round. The Packers (12-6) will attempt to become the first No. 6 seed from the NFC to reach the Super Bowl following road playoff victories over No. 3 seed Philadelphia (21-16) and No. 1 Atlanta (48-21).

Participants in the NFL’s oldest rivalry, the Packers and Bears have met 181 times, but just once in the postseason. That was the 1941 Western Division playoff, won by the Bears 33-14 at Wrigley Field in Chicago. That season, the Packers and Bears had both finished 10-1, handing each other the lone defeats. Chicago got an 81-yard punt return for a touchdown by Hugh Gallarneau and 277 rushing yards in scoring 30 consecutive points to erase an early 7-0 deficit. George McAfee rushed for 119 yards for the Bears, while Norm Standlee ran for 79 yards and two TDs. Green Bay’s Don Hutson had just one catch for 19 yards.

The Bears lead the all-time series 92-83-6, including that one playoff meeting.

The Packers and Bears split their two contests this year. The Bears won 20-17 in Chicago back in Week 3 on a field goal by kicker Robbie Gould in the final seconds. The Packers won 10-3 in Week 17 at Lambeau Field in a game Green Bay needed to win to qualify for the playoffs. Safety Nick Collins intercepted quarterback Jay Cutler in the red zone in the final 20 seconds to preserve the win. Chicago had already clinched the NFC North title and a first-round playoff bye, but the Bears played their starters the entire game anyway.

This will be the Packers’ second appearance in the NFC Championship in the last four seasons, the only NFC team to get this far twice in the last four years. It’s also Green Bay’s fifth NFC title appearance in the last 16 seasons. The Packers won NFC titles following the 1996 and 1997 seasons, splitting the two Super Bowls, but lost in the 1995 and 2007 postseasons.

The Bears will be appearing in the NFC Championship for the second time in five years and the fifth time overall. Chicago won the 2006 NFC title and advanced to the Super Bowl, where the Bears lost to the Indianapolis Colts. The Bears also won the NFC title following the 1985 season, going on to win Super Bowl XX. Chicago lost in the NFC Championship following the 1984 and 1988 seasons.

The third meeting of this season will feature two of the league’s stingiest defenses. In the regular season, the Packers finished No. 2 in the NFL in points allowed, while the Bears were No. 4. The Packers also finished No. 5 in yards allowed, while the Bears were No. 9. Chicago finished tied for third in total takeaways with 35, while the Packers were sixth with 32.

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