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Wednesday, November 24, 2010
Have at It: Sunday's degree of difficulty

By Kevin Seifert
ESPN.com

We've spent some time lately discussing the Chicago Bears' difficult schedule over the final two months of the season. But for one weekend, at least, it's no tougher than what the Green Bay Packers are facing.

That idea was the impetus for Sam's question during Tuesday's SportsNation chat, and I think it provides a relevant way to discuss the ongoing race for the NFC North title. First, the exchange:
Sam (Milwaukee)

Who has a better chance of winning, Green Bay or Chicago this weekend and why?

Kevin Seifert (2:10 PM)

Interesting one. Bears play at home, which is huge. I don't have the exact stat in front of me, but the Packers have a pretty tough task ahead of them. Matt Ryan hasn't often lost at home in his career in Atlanta. But I think the Eagles might be better than the Falcons at this point. I'll say the Bears because they are at home, but I really don't have a clue.

("I really don't have a clue." How is that for a so-called expert's answer?)

As you know, the Bears will host the 7-3 Philadelphia Eagles at Soldier Field. The Packers will travel to the Atlanta Falcons (8-2), who currently reside atop ESPN.com's Power Rankings. Both games are tough matchups for many reasons. Here are two:
  1. Indeed, Ryan is 18-1 in games he's started at home over the past three years. That's a specific way to note that, generally speaking, the Falcons have been awfully difficult to beat at the Georgia Dome in recent years.
  2. The Eagles are 4-1 on the road this season in large part because they protect the football. The Eagles have committed only 11 turnovers this season, the fourth-fewest in the league. That trend would seem to neutralize one of the Bears' top attributes: Creating turnovers on defense.

So what's your vote? Who has a better chance to win this weekend, the Bears or Packers? Let me know your thoughts in the comment section below. I'll publish a representative sample, along with some thoughts of my own, by the end of the week. Have at It.