Lovie Smith didn’t mince words when he was asked what he’d change as the Chicago Bears new head coach during his induction press conference in January 2004.
"The No. 1 goal that we'll have, the No. 1 goal, is to beat Green Bay," Smith told reporters.
Yes, the statement - the first time head coach must have thought - was so nice it needed to be said twice.
The cliché top priority for a new regime is always “win the Super Bowl” but Lovie knew his Bears would have to beat Green Bay for that to happen. A younger Brett Favre had guided the Packers to three straight postseason appearances from 2001-03 and The Pack laid the smack down on the Bears, going 6-0 straight up and against the spread over that period.
But Lovie lived up to his word. Over the next four years, the Bears won six of eight games (5-2-1 ATS) against their division nemesis and one of those losses was a Week 17 game in 2006 when the Monsters of Midway were resting their starters for the postseason.
But the tables turned in the rivalry when Packers GM Ted Thompson handed the team over Aaron Rodgers. The new guy under center was something the old guy never was – patient.
Favre couldn’t stop himself from going for the big play against the Cover 2 defense. He threw just two touchdown passes to 13 interceptions in his final six games against Chicago in a Green Bay uniform.
Rodgers, despite being 14 years younger and with significantly fewer NFL starts under his belt, took what Chicago’s conservative defense gave him and that humble game plan won Green Bay four of six games (4-2 ATS) against the Bears.
This game comes down to trust. Do you trust Jay Cutler as much or more than Rodgers? Do you trust Mike Martz – a guy who’s told reporters he wants another shot as an NFL head coach and often calls plays that aren’t just unconventional but dumb – more than Mike McCarthy?
This is a column about picking NFL underdogs to cover the spread, but when there are only two games on the board I gotta go with my gut – even if that means backing a team to win and cover for the third straight week on the road in a playoff game.
I say shop around and see if you can get the Packers at -3. If not, do yourself a favor and buy the extra point. You don’t want to get caught with your pants down if this one ends up being a one-possession game late in the fourth quarter.Pick:
Packers -3.5New York Jets (+3.5) at Pittsburgh Steelers
The only thing more uncomfortable than Rex Ryan and Mike Tomlin’s mutual love for each other is this anchorman getting all horny for Mad Men leading lady Christina Hendricks. I know this is from last summer but it’s worth watching. Skip ahead to the 2:10 mark if you’re too important to watch the whole clip.
The Yellow and Black have the better quarterback, more experience and the home field. Despite all that, I’m on Fireman Ed’s side for this matchup.
The Steelers have injury issues. Tackles Flozell Adams and Chris Scott are both expected to play but that doesn’t mean they’re healthy. James Harrison is a warrior so that’s why I’m not convinced he didn’t do more damage to that sho