Goal to go

The Bears playoffs hopes will take a turn one way or the other after a their trip to Lambeau Sunday.

Eye of the storm

* Ahman Green, Packers running back
Mr. Green is second in the NFC in rushing and averages a hefty 5.3 yards a carry. Everybody thinks it starts with Brett Favre, but not anymore. Green is the focal point of the Bears defense, which will have its hands full with the NFL's top-rushing offense (163.3 yards a game).

* Brian Urlacher, Bears middle linebacker
Urlacher said this week the team enjoys playing in the cold and in front of hostile fans. The Bears will get both at Lambeau Field against their bitter rivals. Green went for 176 yards on the ground in the earlier meeting; that can't happen again if Chicago plans to stay in the game.

Another key matchup
* Kordell Stewart, Bears quarterback

Stewart hasn't been the QB the Bears envisioned when they signed him this past offseason, but he's played well the last two weeks in wins over Denver and Arizona. Stewart has to be sharp with his throws and keep the Packers honest with his scrambling ability.

* Darren Sharper, Packers safety
Sharper is one of the league's best safeties and will need to make some plays in the secondary to give the Packers the edge they need at home. If Sharper and crew can create two or more turnovers, it could be another blowout in Cheeseland.

History in the making
No other teams in the history of professional football have approached the level of the Bears' longtime vendetta with the Packers, which started in 1921, when they met for the first time in the Windy City.

For basic comparison, no other two teams in NFL annals have met as many as 150 times. The closest approximation is the Packers' and Bears' respective series with the Detroit Lions, which have seen Chicago square off with the Lions 148 times and the Packers duel the Lions on 147 occasions.

And, although the Packers won the last six meetings with the Bears, the rivalry's intensity over the 82-year span of their series is well documented by the fact that 69 of their 165 meetings have been decided by a touchdown or less.

Play that record
Quarterback Brett Favre, who customarily is in primary focus on any football field, will officially take center stage at the outset of today's 166th showdown with the Bears at Lambeau Field.

As soon as he takes his first snap, Favre will be playing in his 188th consecutive game and making Packers history. He will thus eclipse the team's all-time record, set by Hall of Famer Forrest Gregg, who played in 187 consecutive games in a Green Bay uniform over a 14-year career (1956, '58-70).

Quick hits
* The Packers and Bears are the NFL's longest rivalry, with the Bears holding a 83-76-6 advantage. This will be the 166th meeting.
* Green Bay has won the last six meetings.
* The two teams met for 59 straight years starting in 1923 until the players strike canceled both contests in 1982.
* Bears coach Dick Jauron is 2-7 against the Packers.
* The Packers lead the NFL in rushing per game, at 163.3 yards a contest.

Fast fact
Since 1994, Green Bay has won 17 of the 19 contests against the Bears.


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