NFC North Clash

When Brett Favre last visited Soldier Field, he exited in tears after a rousing win over the Chicago Bears that appeared to be a fitting send-off for the future Hall of Famer.

Nearly a year later, not only is Favre back, but he's guided the Green Bay Packers into position to finish this season with an even more memorable victory.

Oddsmakers from Bodog have made Green Bay -9 point spread favorites (View NFL Football odds) for Sunday’s game, the over/under has been set at 35 total points (Game Matchup). Current public betting information shows that 63% of bets for this game have been placed on Green Bay -9 (View NFL Football bet percentages).

Favre and the Packers continue their pursuit of the No. 1 seed in the NFC and try to avenge one of their two losses when they take on the Bears on Sunday.

Green Bay closed an 8-8 season in 2006 with a 26-7 victory at Chicago, which rested many of its regulars having already clinched home-field advantage throughout the NFC playoffs. Favre, who threw for 285 yards and a touchdown, was emotional afterward on the field and in the press conference.

"If this is my last game, I want to remember it," Favre said, his voice cracking and tears streaming from his eyes. "It's tough. I love these guys. I love this game. What a great way to go out against a great football team. I couldn't ask for a better way to get out."

Favre may be headed for an even better way of getting out as Green Bay (12-2) is tied with Dallas for the best record in the NFC. The Packers have clinched their first first-round bye since 1997, the year they won Favre's lone Super Bowl title, but must finish ahead of the Cowboys to gain the No. 1 seed.

"We've got two teams that are 12-2," Green Bay coach Mike McCarthy said Monday. "We're playing for home-field advantage, and that will be our focus. But with that, we have been playing pretty much almost everybody at most of our positions and we'll continue with that mind-set."

The Packers have been led all year by Favre, who will extend his record for consecutive starts by a quarterback to 252 on Sunday. He set the NFL record for wins by a quarterback with his 149th on Sept. 16 against the New York Giants and became the league's all-time leader in passing yards in last week's 33-14 win at St. Louis, surpassing Miami's Dan Marino.

"I say every time this happens that I'm honored," Favre said. "I would much rather win. I'm tickled to death that I've had a chance to break these records and be a part of all these wonderful things."

Favre is putting together his best season in three years and was named to his ninth Pro Bowl on Tuesday. He needs just 95 yards passing on Sunday to reach 4,000 for the fifth time in his career.

"We've got two more weeks yet to go at this thing and then the real season gets started," Green Bay Pro Bowl defensive end Aaron Kampman said. "For the amount of experience he has, the years he's played in this league, to still be at this level I think speaks volumes about the type of player he is and type of man he is."

Favre and Kampman will be joined in Hawaii by cornerback Al Harris and wide receiver Donald Driver, who has reached 1,000 yards for the fifth time in six seasons.

The Bears (6-8) also have four Pro Bowlers on their roster, but that is about all they have in common with the Packers this season. It has been a dismal year for Chicago, which has lost three straight and has used three different starting quarterbacks.

"We haven't been able to finish," coach Lovie Smith said. "We've had leads in quite a few games. For whatever reason, we just haven't been able to get the job done."

One of the few bright spots for last year's NFC champions, however, was a 27-20 win at Green Bay on Oct. 7. It was one of just four games this season in which Favre had more interceptions (two) than touchdowns (one) as the Packers blew a 10-point halftime lead and had a season-high five turnovers in their first loss of the season.

Brian Griese made his second start for the Bears in that game after Rex Grossman started the first three. Kyle Orton will get the nod this Sunday for his second start in place of an injured Grossman, although he didn't fare very well in the first one.

Making his first start since the 2005 season finale, Orton completed 22 of 38 passes for 184 yards, no touchdowns and one interception in a 20-13 loss at Minnesota on Monday. The Bears finished with 209 yards - their second-lowest total of the season.

Although the quarterback play has been poor, Chicago also has been hampered by the worst rushing attack in football with 1,098 yards. It was especially bad Monday against the NFL's top-ranked rushing defense as the Bears managed a season-low 32 yards on the ground.

Favre has a career 13-2 road record against Chicago, but the Packers remain wary of their fallen rival.

"There's a lot of emotion," McCarthy said. "The importance of this game is very evident. It's probably the best rival football game in the National Football League, and we need to be 13-2 when we come back from Chicago."

By: Staff Writers - Email Us

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