Regular-season standings were the only path to the single NFL championship game between Western and Eastern conferences. The mighty Packers were two-time defending NFL champions under Vince Lombardi, but the Bears had opened the season with a 10-3 victory in Green Bay in what Halas labeled "the greatest team effort in the history of the Bears — 44 long years."

The Bears' only loss was to the 49ers and they figured nobody else was going to help them beat the Packers. The Pack was playing the season without suspended star Paul Hornung. Quarterback Bart Starr was sidelined for the second Bears game with a broken hand, but backup John Roach had won three starts in a row.

The Bears forced seven turnovers and dominated from the opening kickoff with J.C. Caroline's resounding hit on Herb Adderley.

Tickets that cost $2.50 were being scalped for an unheard of $100 and the Tribune reported: "Tickets to the Russian circus and baseball rainchecks were among the most common items shuffled through the pass window, to no avail."

The Bears tied their next two games and finished the season 11-1-2 before beating the Giants for the NFL title. The Packers finished 11-2-1.

3. A monster upset, Nov. 2, 1941, Wrigley Field: Packers 16-14.

After opening with a 25-17 victory in Green Bay, the newly minted Monsters were cruising at 5-0. But the Packers were 6-1 and undaunted with stars Clark Hinkle, Cecil Isbell and the incomparable Don Hutson, the league MVP.

"Our players kept reading, day after day, about the Bears being the wonder team, the unbeatable team," Packers coach Curly Lambeau said. "We knew the Bears were reading the same stuff. We hoped they believed it. We didn't."

The Bears weren't prepared for a seven-man defensive line and the Packers took a 16-0 lead before the Bears rallied in the fourth quarter and nearly pulled it out.

The Wrigley crowd of 46,484 was the largest ever for a pro football game in the Midwest. It included 3,000 Packer fans, many of them arriving via four special trains from the north.

It was reported that nine people in Wrigley Field suffered heart attacks. Two died, including Mary Halas, wife of Bears' traveling secretary and Halas' brother, Frank. She was 59.

If the Bears had won, there would have been no need for that playoff.

4. Packers' first title, Dec. 8, 1929, Wrigley Field: Packers 25-0.

It was the last game of the season for the Packers and their third against the Bears, whom they dominated for the first time, outscoring them by a combined 62-0 in a humiliating sweep.

Before 1933 and the split into two divisions, NFL titles were decided strictly by regular-season standings. The Packers finished undefeated at 12-0-1. The Bears never were competitive and finished 4-9-2. But if the Bears had upset the Packers, the Giants would have been awarded the title with their 13-1-1 record.

The Packers had played eight straight games on the road, their last three in a 10-day period. Upon their return to Green Bay, 20,000 fans met the Packers, half the population celebrating the little town's entrance to big-league status. Coincidentally, for that season Lambeau had added talented Cal Hubbard and Mike Michalske from New York and notorious night-clubber Johnny Blood, who negotiated a paycut so Lambeau would delay his curfew on bars until Thursdays. All three made the Hall of Fame.

In Chicago, Halas wrote that his team's first-ever losing season meant "the time had come for me to stop playing. I was 34. I no longer had speed." Also, Halas wrote: "The time had come for Dutch (Sternaman) and me to stop coaching, or, more accurately, mis-coaching."

Halas began his first of three sabbaticals from coaching and hired Ralph Jones, his former freshman coach at Illinois who was athletic director at Lake Forest Academy. Jones began to work on installing the T-formation with man-in-motion.

5. Bronko Nagurski's run, Dec. 11, 1932, Wrigley Field: Bears 9-0.

The Bears were 5-1-6 and the Packers were 10-2-1. Ties were thrown out and titles were decided on winning percentage. The Packers appeared to be on their way to their fourth straight title until losing to the Portsmouth Spartans the week before the Bears' game. With a 6-1-4 record, the Spartans (forerunners to Detroit Lions) also had a better winning percentage than the Packers.

Snow and a frozen field held the Bears-Packers crowd to 5,000 and the score to 0-0 until Paul "Tiny" Engebretson, a tackle from Northwestern who played only that season, kicked a field goal.

Then the immortal Bronko Nagurski iced it with a 56-yard run enhancing his legend in front of such teammates as Red Grange, Bill Hewitt and Luke Johnsos.

With the Bears and Spartans tied in the standings, last-minute arrangements were made for a playoff in Chicago. The weather grew worse, so the game had to be played inside Chicago Stadium on an 80-yard field. The Bears won it 9-0 when Nagurski faked a run and threw a pass to Grange that the Spartans thought violated the rule that required a passer to be at least five yards behind the line of scrimmage.