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Bears, Packers take rivalry off field leading up to game

War of words

Published: Saturday, Dec. 15, 2012 12:13 a.m. CDT

(Continued from Page 1)

With any luck the Bears-Packers game Sunday will measure up to the sniping it's getting as the teams continue the back-and-forth that resumed Wednesday when Brandon Marshall talked for nearly 20 minutes about his disdain for the neighbors to the north.

Lance Briggs didn't need to carry a prop with him a day after Marshall hauled around a Christmas tree to discuss what is at stake. He has lived the rivalry for a decade, riding the ups – including a 6-2 record for Lovie Smith vs. Brett Favre –and the downs – a current five-game losing streak to Aaron Rodgers.

"[Marshall] said it best," Briggs said. "Doesn't like them and is going to play this game like it's his last. I feel the same way."

On Thursday, Brian Urlacher, sidelined with a pulled hamstring, traded barbs with Packers tight end Jermichael Finley, who suggested the Bears defense could be better without the aging middle linebacker because he has slowed in recent seasons.

"I don't think they're losing too much if he's out. Putting another guy [Nick Roach] in might help them a little," Finley told FoxSportsWisconsin.com

"He's an idiot," Briggs said. "Just suit up and play ball. His comments aren't going to change the outcome of the game. They're not going to help him or anybody play better."

Urlacher then took to SiriusXM NFL Radio to say the Packers offense was better off in its 2010 Super Bowl run without Finley, who was lost to a torn meniscus in the first half of the season.

"If he thinks that, that's fine," Urlacher said. "Just like a couple of years ago, I think, he tore his ACL [in fact meniscus] and the Packers were actually better without him. You know, they won the Super Bowl. I hope we can duplicate that. It won't hurt my feelings if we win the Super Bowl without me like they did without him.

"People can say what they want. It feels like I deal with something like this every year. It doesn't hurt my feelings. I don't like it when they talk about my teammates. It's like your kids. It's OK to be talking about me or whatever but don't talk about my kids or my family. That really pisses me off."

Otherwise, the Packers treated Marshall's comments mostly in a lighthearted manner. He basically said the Green Bay secondary wasn't man enough to cover him one-on-one. The idea is absurd on its face when you consider the Bears' next closest wide receiver is 1,086 yards behind Marshall. Why wouldn't the Packers devote more attention to him?

"I don't know exactly what he said but he's smart so I'm going to be smart, too," Packers wide receiver Greg Jennings said, according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. "Man, I wish the Bears would play us one on one and man to man. It's reverse psychology. It's pretty impressive. So, yeah, man the Bears always are playing Cover-2. I think they're scared not to play Cover-2."

Soon, these teams are going to have to play the game. A Packers' victory will clinch the NFC North for them. If the Bears win, they not only remain alive in the division race, they continue to control their own playoff destiny.

More than that, a Bears victory would provide a badly needed dose of momentum and confidence. It also would change the entire tone at Halas Hall, where everyone has been tight after four losses in the last five games.

"[The talking] really doesn't matter," Briggs said. "It really doesn't change the way we're going to play. It doesn't change anything.

"It means the world right now. We have to win this game. There are so many reasons that go into it. It's the Packers. It's the playoffs. Everything is on the line. We have to leave it all out there."

Whne: Noon, Sunday

Where: Soldier Field, Chicago

TV/Radio: Fox/780 AM

Line: Packers by 3

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