I see quite a few similarities between the way we've played all season and the way that Carolina is playing right now. We dominated the competition exactly the way they were able to do that on Sunday. It's all a matter of physicality and imposing your will on the other team. The team that wants the win most usually comes out on top.
We have advantages because we're going to be playing at home and we're all healthy. It's amazing how much difference just a few days off can make. I went to Florida to see my baby. It was refreshing to get away from the game for a while. My mind switched off immediately as soon as I saw her. And I found that driving my car along the beaches was the perfect way to refresh myself. Now I'm back here and ready to go.
For the players who have been injured, it was a similar situation. Just some time away from football to heal mentally and physically makes a real difference. That came to my mind more than once as I saw the other teams beating each other up during the wildcard games last weekend.
Carolina looked strong but the big thing in our favor is that we've beaten this team before. The Panthers may feel that they've something to prove against us, but we've already proved it by beating them once.
We had a light practice Monday and by Wednesday we'll be back to a normal week of full practice. I'm so ready to go. Everybody in this locker room feels that way right now. We just can't wait to get out there on our home field and take another step forward in the playoffs.
One last thing that happened during the past week was that I was named to Len Pasquarelli's ESPN All Pro Team and I was also listed in Sports Illustrated's Dr. Z's All Pro Team. Anytime you can get an honor like that it really means a lot. That's because both were national awards, not just for one conference. It feels great to know that my level of effort has been recognized.
There have been a lot of awards for the Bears this year, from Brian Urlacher's Defensive Player of the Year to Lovie Smith's Coach of the Year and all the Bears picked for the Pro Bowl. I guess we're doing a lot that's right. The Bears are coming up in terms of national prominence, which hasn't happened for quite a while. To earn the respect of our peers means a lot and I think the effect will ultimately be that we will play even harder.
We have our destiny in our hands. We have the talent and the desire to go all the way. If we play to the level of our collective abilities things should workout for us on Sunday.
Brendon Ayanbadejo has agreed to share his observations of life in the National Football League with Bear Report readers. Brendon will be checking in via the website on a weekly basis.