Snowmen will be made and melted in the lead up to Sunday’s icy fixture between NFC North rivals the Green Bay Packers and Chicago Bears. The snow is falling at Soldier Field right now, and after a disappointing Seattle Seahawks show last week, expect a good old fashioned white out in The Windy City.
Instinctively, both defenses will look to bring down their own opposing “snowman” this weekend. Quarterbacks Aaron Rodgers and Jay Cutler have successfully tip-toed their way to the NFC Championship Game through the past 19 weeks, thanks to a barrage of rainbow passes and dazzling sprints toward the pylon.
On the unfortunate side, neither passer will be responsible for maintaining a pinpoint defensive performance on Sunday.
Lost and forgotten amongst the bigger stories of this weekend’s game, is the cornerback matchup between Green Bay’s Charles Woodson and Chicago’s Charles Tillman. Not only will both players be relied upon to substitute pressure on Rodgers and Cutler, both men must be ready to contain opposing wide receivers such as Greg Jennings and the always turbulent Devin Hester.
Star cornerback turned all round player, Charles Woodson was praised heavily by experts last weekend for his ability to contain the Atlanta Falcons tormenting wide receiver core.
Although fellow cornerback Tramon Williams took on most of the dirty work in this game recording two interceptions (one of which resulted in a 70 yard pick six), Woodson’s subtle yet recognizable performance shone through at days end.
The area that always manages to impress on Woodson’s resume, is his tackling ability. The “tie em’ up cowboy” days of Al Harris may be dearly missed by Packer fans, but Woodson’s stripping ability on every possession always looms for opposing teams.
Last week against Atlanta Woodson recorded five total tackles and a sack on quarterback Matt Ryan. This time around, Jay Cutler is Woodson’s primary target, a player No.21 has sacked only once all year.
In comparison to Charles Tillman, Woodson is a very different unit. Woodson’s usual style of play is to remain tight against a wide receiver, praying on the quarterback should a small window of opportunity present itself.
However, don’t expect defensive coordinator Dom Capers to call a flurry of blitzes this Sunday, simply due to the fact that the Bears receivers can be harmful if left unattended.
In all likelihood Woodson will be playing on Devin Hester throughout much of the game. Woodson has recorded two interceptions this year, and is looking to limit Hester to less than 16 yards – similar to Week 17.
Clay Matthews? Tramon Williams? AJ Hawk?
Sure they all mean the difference between winning and losing, but defensive stands always start on the Woodson front.
Every NFL fan has his/her very own list of Top 10 Cornerbacks. Whether or not you choose to place Charles Tillman on that very list, is of course up to you.
Tillman’s repertoire in the NFL is simple – he makes big plays, and combines eight years of experience into each and every game.
2010 has been another brilliant year for Tillman. Five interceptions to his name along with three forced fumbles sees Tillman outmuscle Charles Woodson this year, even though both players have their distinct strengths and weaknesses.
Yet with all of this being said, how has Tillman played against Green Bay?
In 2010, nothing short of “great” would do him justice. In Week 3 Tillman failed to record an interception, but don’t let that fool you, Tillman’s five tackles help solidify the Bears 20-17 win at home.
Next, Week 17 popped up. This time Tillman did record an interception, during a crucial moment midway through the third quarter that saw Aaron Rodgers try and locate Greg Jennings, only up 3-0 at the time.
Tillman’s efforts may be taken with a grain of salt by neutral fans. That is a factor he himself is okay with, though. Bears fans, make sure you hang your hat on the fact that Tillman kept the Packers scoreless until the fourth quarter, a truly telling statistic ahead of this Sunday.
Both Julius Peppers and Brian Urlacher will be responsible for pressuring Rodgers on the defensive side. Tillman’s job is to simply shut down Jennings, Donald Driver, Andrew Quarless and the provoking James Jones this weekend.
The Charles Woodson vs. Charles Tillman matchup will be an ongoing battle. And in all reality, the cornerback who makes the fewer mistakes is likely to walk away with the win when it’s all said and done.
Packers wide receiver Greg Jennings stressed the poor conditions of Soldier Field earlier in the week, stating how difficult it is to get a decent footing in the often soggy and loose fitting turf. Unfortunately, Woodson himself will also have to keep an eye on some pesky penalties that have been bothering him in recent weeks.
It’s a good old rivalry brawl, which for once focuses on the defense more than the offense. Make sure you keep an eye on this duel.
Ryan Cook is an Australian author for Acme Packing Company, and a Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report. He is also a guest writer on PackerChatters, and a contributing writer to Detroit Lions Talk, Gack Sports and Sports Haze.