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Each Tuesday morning, Whatifsports.com's NFL simulation engine will provide you with predictions, box scores and statistics for every NFL game that week. The NFL simulation engine generates detailed information including the home team's chances of winning (Home Win %), average score and comprehensive box score link. If you want to share your new found NFL knowledge with friends and family, make sure to check out our NFL Widgets on the WhatIf To Go page or click on the social networking share bar located at the top and bottom of the article.
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Game of the Week: Bears at Packers
The term "rivalry" is repeatedly exercised by those in the sports world to bestow unearned importance on a contest or event. A recent matchup in the NBA between the New York Knicks and Boston Celtics was deemed an encounter of adversaries, despite the former lacking relevance for the last decade. The New England Patriots and Indianapolis Colts have come in conflict, but their animosity is relatively new. Until 2004, the relationship between the Yankees and Red Sox mirrored sovereignty rather than rivalry.
Yet the hostility is heartfelt from fans and players alike when discussing matters between the Green Bay Packers and Chicago Bears. Lovie Smith stated his first objective when hired as Chicago's coach was to beat the Packers, and has made good on his goal: the Bears have won eight of the past thirteen games. One of the oldest rivalries in sports, these two franchises have met in 180 contests, with the Bears holding the advantage with a 92-82-6 record. With playoff implications on the line for their 181st meeting on Sunday, the clash at Lambeau Field doubles as the WhatIfSports Game of the Week.
At 11-4, most would point to the defense as the catalyst for Chicago's standing, and with good reason. The Bears have held opponents to 18.4 points per game as a result of a vaunted rushing defense (halting running backs to a NFC-low 92.1 yards per game) and stingy secondary (stifling signal callers to a QB rating of 73.6, second best in the NFL).
But the despite this defensive dominance, the Monsters of the Midway find themselves a win away from a first round bye thanks to their offensive aerial assault. Discounting the 36-7 smackdown suffered at the hands of the Patriots, Jay Cutler has thrown 11 touchdowns with just two picks since Thanksgiving in leading Chicago to four wins. In the past five games, Cutler has achieved a QB rating of 100-plus four times, a feat he achieved just twice in the previous nine tries. Adding in this endeavor has been the revitalization of Matt Forte, who has submitted performances of 60-yards or more in six of the past seven games, a plateau he crossed only once in his previous eight games. The duo has helped Mike Martz's offense score 40 and 38 points, respectively, in the past two games, clinching the NFC North division title in the process.
Chicago's foes know something about offensive firepower. Despite facing one of the most imposing defensive units in the league and an aura of uncertainty at quarterback, the Packers posted 45 points on the scoreboard Sunday. Coming off his second concussion of the season, Aaron Rodgers threw for over 40 4 yards and four touchdowns to put the Pack in position to earn a postseason berth.
Although a healthy Rodgers is vital to any potential playoff run, Green Bay's identity lies in its defense. Coordinator Dom Capers has the Pack suffocating opponents to an NFC-low 15.8 points per game. Charles Woodson and company are holding quarterbacks to QB rating of 69.1 and Clay Matthews is third in the league in sacks with 12.5.
On the surface, this clash between NFC foes means more to Green Bay, as a win equates to postseason entry. However, with a win and a little help from Atlanta and New Orleans, the Bears can clinch home-field advantage.
So who wins in this battle between the Bears and Packers? According to the WhatIfSports NFL simulation engine, the Bears come out on top 59.4-percent of the time by an average score of 21-18. For the rest of this week's predictions, check below:
NFL Week 17
|@ New York Jets||82.3||21||Simulate Game|
|@ Houston Texans||79.0||34||Simulate Game|
|@ New England Patriots||77.5||24||Simulate Game|
|@ Baltimore Ravens||74.6||21||Simulate Game|
|@ Philadelphia Eagles||72.8||24||Simulate Game|
|@ Atlanta Falcons||72.2||25||Simulate Game|
|Tampa Bay Buccaneers||34.1||19||Boxscore|
|@ New Orleans Saints||65.9||24||Simulate Game|
|@ San Francisco 49ers||63.3||22||Simulate Game|
|@ Indianapolis Colts||58.1||23||Simulate Game|
|@ Kansas City Chiefs||54.0||24||Simulate Game|
|@ Detroit Lions||48.4||19||Simulate Game|
|@ Green Bay Packers||40.6||18||Simulate Game|
|St. Louis Rams||69.3||19||Boxscore|
|@ Seattle Seahawks||30.7||13||Simulate Game|
|@ Cleveland Browns||26.8||15||Simulate Game|
|New York Giants||78.1||29||Boxscore|
|@ Washington Redskins||21.9||18||Simulate Game|
|San Diego Chargers||92.6||34||Boxscore|
|@ Denver Broncos||7.4||17||Simulate Game|
Joel Beall is a Content Writer for Whatifsports.com. He can be reached at email@example.com.