Bears offense vs. Packers defense
Bears fans received some good news this week when quarterback Kyle Orton was listed on the injury report as probable, and all signs point to him making his return to the lineup this week against the Packers. The Bears are clearly a better offense when he’s behind center and the playbook should open up more after being limited last week due to bad field position all game and Rex Grossman starting his first game since last year. When the Bears have the ball, look for them to try to establish the run as the Packers are 28th in the league at defending it. They are giving up 154 rushing yards per game and it’s been their Achilles’ heel up to this point in the season. Adrian Peterson rushed for 192 yards last week and LenDale White and Chris Johnson combined for 166 yards two weeks ago. If Matt Forte can find some room early, the Bears will definitely be dictating the tempo. Orton may struggle in this game as the Packers are third in the league at defending the pass. They are allowing just 177 passing yards per game. They can be scored on, though, giving up nearly 23 points per game, whereas the Bears offense is averaging 26 points per game. Be wary of the secondary as teammates Nick Collins, the free safety, and cornerback Charles Woodson are tied for the league lead with 5 interceptions. Cornerback Tramon Williams isn’t too far behind. He’s got 4 interceptions and is tied for 3rd in that department.
Bears defense vs. Packers offense
It’s kind of a Catch-22 when the Bears have an offense that’s producing as well as it is and yet their pass defense is third-worst in the league. As a result, you find yourself having to balance your emotions in that you want the Bears to do well offensively, but if they jump out to an early lead, that means the opposing offense is going to pass the ball and likely have success. We witnessed that first hand last week when the Bears took their opening possession down the field for a touchdown and then their defense, currently ranked No. 4 against the run, completely shut down the Titans’ powerful run game. As a result, the Titans abandoned the run for most of the game and Kerry Collins found ways to pick apart the Bears’ pass defense. I fear that we’re going to see that same game plan this week and it’ll be Aaron Rodgers and the Packers’ deep receiving corps that’ll be finding the holes in the Bears’ secondary. I feel like a broken record saying it, but it’s not rocket science: the defensive line has to get pressure on the quarterback. I’m usually a lenient person, but there are no more excuses. And when Tommie Harris popped off at the media this week for being too critical of him and his teammates, there’s so much I would have loved to say to him. The most pressing of which would be for Tommie and his defensive line mates to stop counting their money or making excuses about 3-step drops and start invading the backfield. I’m going to make this really clear so that even the most ignorant of football fans viewing Sunday’s game can know what to watch for. Keep an eye on Nos. 93, 91, 98, and 96. All of them wearing white. And pay attention to No. 12 in green. If his jersey isn’t brown by the end of the game, chances are the Bears lost.
Robbie Gould is rapidly falling down the rankings as his field goal attempts are becoming fewer and far between. He’s got a pretty good counterpart on the opposite sideline in Mason Crosby, who led the entire league in scoring last year. Punter Derrick Frost isn’t particularly good as he’s 18th in the league with a 37.3 net average. Last week, Devin Hester watched highlights of last season’s returns and it may have helped him see the holes and hit them a bit harder. Hester had kickoff returns of 22, 20, and 41 yards last week against the Titans, but Craig Hentrich didn’t give him many opportunities to return punts. Maybe returning to the scene of his first NFL punt return touchdown — which he accomplished in Week 1 at Green Bay in 2006 — will help revive him. Green Bay is one of the few teams in the league with a worse kickoff return average than the Bears. However, they do have the third-best punt return average in the league.
Well, it’s rivalry week. It’s time to throw out all the statistics and trends and focus on which team executes better. If you need to know anything about how these games work, look no further than last year’s meeting at Lambeau Field. The Bears played miserably in the first half as Brett Favre picked apart the pass defense, and if it weren’t for two Charles Tillman forced fumbles on rookie receiver James Jones, the game really could have gotten out of hand. Thanks to some questionable play-calling from Mike McCarthy, and a beautiful playaction pass from Brian Griese to Desmond Clark for the go-ahead touchdown, the Bears were able to sneak away with a game they had no business winning. Lovie Smith is undefeated at Lambeau Field as head coach of the Bears. Doesn’t matter, and don’t let anybody tell you that’s an advantage. Packers linebacker Nick Barnett is out and defensive tackle Justin Harrell is questionable, but aside from that, injuries will not factor into this game. All that matters in this one is who executes better. And as I said earlier, if the Bears’ defensive line doesn’t spend enough time in the Packers backfield, forget about it.
Final Score: Green Bay 27, Chicago 23
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