Quest for the Wildcard

Packers @ Bears / Cardinals @ Rams Half and Half

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PART 1:

Shoutout to my dad for this idea. What I will be doing is writing half of this article prior to the Packers @ Bears and the Cardinals @ Rams games and half afterward to give my thoughts and reactions to whatever goes down. Both games have playoff implications.. If the Bears win, they are in as the final Wildcard team from the NFC. If the Bears lose and the Cardinals win, that puts the Cardinals into the final Wildcard slot… Finally, if both teams lose, the Bears would land that final Wildcard spot. Bottom line, the Bears control their own destiny.

Packers @ Bears Pre-game thoughts

The Bears got a late Christmas gift with the news that Packers star left tackle David Bakhtiari suffered a season ending ACL injury.. This will undoubtedly play into the Bears advantage in both stopping the Packers run game and getting pressure on Aaron Rodgers. A huge break for the Bears.

The Packers will not rest any of their star players as they want to play spoiler to the Bears playoff hopes as well as secure a the #1 seed in the NFC and a first round bye. The first matchup between these two archrivals saw the Packers dominate from wire to wire in Green Bay. While home field advantage really means nothing in this era of the Pandemic, the Bears are hoping to work some magic at home in Soldier field to secure a playoff berth.

Bears starting quarterback, Mitchell Trubisky is arguably playing the best football he has played through his short career. David Montgomery, Allen Robinson and the defense seem to be heating up at just the right time. I think the Bears will establish the running game against a Packers defense that struggles against the run. If the Bears can control the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball, they should be in good shape. Establishing the run game early will allow Trubisky to get out of the pocket on play action which is where he does his best work.

I predict the Bears will pull out the victory at home and secure the final NFC Wildcard slot. Final score: CHI: 27- GB: 24.

Cardinals @ Rams

Both Jared Goff and Kyler Murray are questionable for Sunday’s matchup. The Rams have locked up a playoff berth via the Wildcard and will most likely roll without Goff. Kyler Murray is expected to play as this is the biggest game of the season for the Cardinals. Two of the youngest coaches in the league will battle it out, but with the Rams having their playoff spot secured, I don’t anticipate the Rams playing many of their stars including Aaron Donald and Jalen Ramesy on the defensive side of the ball.

Based on the simple fact that the Rams really have nothing to play for, I have to say the Cardinals will pull this one out and their playoff hopes will rest in the hands of the Bears losing to the Packers.

Final score: AZ: 24 — LAR: 10

PART 2:

Packers @ Bears

Well, David Bakhtiari’s absence from the Packers offensive line had no impact on the outcome of the game. Per usual, Aaron Rodgers had loads of time to dissect the Bears defense from all angles. Rodgers threw for 3 easy touchdowns in the first half alone. The Bears offense did not look bad. They moved the ball slowly but surely throughout the first half.. A costly Cole Kmet fumble in Bear territory that led to a Packer touchdown was the lone error for the Bears offense in the first half. At the break, the Packers led by 8-points, 21–13.

The Bears defense made some much-needed adjustments in the 3rd quarter. They kept the Packers off the board in the 3rd and cut the lead to 21–16 with a Cairo Santos field goal.

The 4th quarter rolled around and the Bears continued to move the football down the field. They were deep in Packer territory with a 4th and 1 on the line. Instead of going back to what was working which was the QB sneak, they decided to have Trubisky roll out and try to hit Allen Robinson who was invisible for most of this game. The Packers defense was all over it and the momentum shifted to Green Bay the rest of the way.

The Packers then went down and scored a touchdown to extend the lead to 28–16 midway through the 4th quarter. Trubisky and the Bears got the ball back only to see Mitch throw an ill-advised interception that led to yet another Packer touchdown.

Final Score: Packers: 35 — Bears: 16

Chicago’s playoff hopes were in the hands of the LA Rams taking out the Arizona Cardinals.

Cardinals @ Rams

Both teams were down to their backup options at Quarterback. Jared Goff was inactive to start the game which forced the Rams to put the ball in John Wolford’s hands. The Cardinals star QB, Kyler Murray was questionable leading up to the game. He tried to play but was injured on Arizona’s first drive. The Cardinals were then reduced to their backup, Chris Streveler.

The Cardinals led for much of the first half. They took an early 7–0 lead. The Rams came back with a field goal making it 7–3. Los Angeles was threatening to score again when Cam Akers fumbled at the goal line giving it back to the Cardinals at their own 1 yard line. The Rams redeemed themselves for the most part with a safety making the score 7–5.

It looked like the half would end with a score of 7–5 in favor of Arizona when Chris Streveler made a game-changing mistake. He threw an interception that the Rams took back 84-yards for a touchdown giving them a 12–7 lead heading into the halftime locker room.

After halftime, it was all Rams. The Cardinals could not move the ball with backup, Streveler under center. The Rams took a 18–7 lead heading into the 4th quarter.

During the 4th quarter, down two possessions, the Cardinals had seen enough of the backup quarterback. Kyler Murray decided he was well enough to play and took the field after being injured early in the 1st quarter. You could tell he was not 100% by any means. While the Cardinals did threaten to score with Kyler, their attempts were thwarted by a solid Rams defense.

The Rams save the Bears playoff hopes by taking out the Cardinals.

Final Score: AZ: 7 — Rams: 18

Chicago Bears secure a Wildcard spot for the first time since the infamous Cody Parkey Double-Doink against the Eagles in 2018.

THANK YOU LOS ANGELES RAMS!!!

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