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Packers-Bears matchup of the day: Friday

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Dan Parr
Associate editor

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By Dan Parr

Here's a look at another key matchup heading into the battle for the NFC championship between the Packers and Bears.

Packers OTs Chad Clifton and Bryan Bulaga vs. Bears DEs Julius Peppers and Israel Idonije

Peppers is one of the league's most dominant pass rushers, and while he had a big impact on the outcome of the Bears' Week Three win over the Packers, he did not collect a sack in either of the two meetings against Green Bay in the regular season.

He likely will be matched up against Clifton for much of the game. Peppers operates from the right side mostly, but will switch sides with Idonije at times — Packers offensive line coach James Campen estimated Peppers plays on the left side a third of the time — and he'll line up across from Bulaga, a 2010 first-round pick, when he's on the left side. Bears defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli also probably will call for some stunts and games up front, and Peppers or Idonije could end up rushing inside instead of off the edge on occasion.

The Bears rely on their front four, and particularly the defensive ends, to generate pressure and take the burden off the secondary in coverage. If QB Aaron Rodgers is given time to scan the field and find receivers running deep routes, Green Bay could rack up big plays. On the other hand, if the pocket is continually collapsing around Rodgers and he takes some hard hits, Rodgers is not going to shred the secondary like he did against Atlanta in the divisional round.

While Peppers has the speed to get around the corner and the power to drive blockers backward, Idonije has been one of the Bears' most improved players. He matched Peppers' eight sacks in the regular season and will be a difficult assignment for Bulaga, who had a rough go of it against Chicago in Week 17. He committed four penalties (two for holding and two for false starts) in that game.

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