On Thursday night the Green Bay Packers and the Chicago Bears will play yet another edition of the NFL’s oldest rivalry.
For the Green Bay Packers this game carries a more heightened sense of importance after last week’s loss to the San Francisco 49ers. But this game will be much of the same, at least on paper.
Last season the Chicago Bears were having a solid season until injuries derailed it and this offseason they added Brandon Marshall to finally give Jay Cutler a number one receiver to go along with running back Matt Forte. So it will be more of the same for the Packers defense in that they will have to stop a balanced offense.
While the Indianapolis Colts defense isn’t the greatest to measure against (the Bears week one opponent), the Bears offense faired very well against them. Jay Cutler threw for 333 yards and two touchdowns and Matt Forte ran for 80 yards and a touchdown and Marshall caught nine passes for 119 yards a touchdown. The Packers must once again do their best to slow down this balanced Bears offense.
The good news for the Packers? The Bears defense isn’t as good as the 49ers’. Last week the Bears gave up 309 yards through the air to rookie Andrew Luck. This means that Aaron Rodgers should have no issues in throwing the ball. There is another bit of good news for the Packers; they may be able to run the ball against the Bears.
Last week the Bears gave up only 63 yards rushing the ball but the Colts only ran the ball 15 times, two of those being Andrew Luck. The Colts starting running back, Donald Brown, averaged 5.3 yards per carry and only carried the ball nine times. Mike McCarthy has hammered home the point that the Packers will continue to develop their run game and it looks like they could get a shot this week. It also helps that linebacker Brian Urlacher may have to sit out the game with injury.
The game plan for the Packers should be the same as it was last weekend with the minor alteration being to expect just a little more from the running game. The Bears have a solid defense but it looks like the Packers will have a shot to run the ball and they will need to take that opportunity. As shown last week, against a good defense Rodgers can’t do it all, but he can come pretty dang close.
But it won’t be that easy. It is a rivalry game and a fierce one at that. Both these teams will be giving it their all to win that bit of pride that comes from beating a rival so expect the game to be hard-hitting and to have a close final score.
Packers get a glimmer of hope in the running game as Cedric Benson puts in a solid performance, Rodgers gets his stats, the defense slows down the Bears just enough as the Packers beat the rival Bears 38-24 to improve to 1-1 on the young season.
Three Keys to Victory
- Keep Brandon Marshall in check – Marshall put up solid numbers last week and with the way the Packers defense has played you can expect more of the same this week. The Packers need to keep him check and make sure he doesn’t have a big game. Cutler will look to him often as he finally has a number one receiver and wants to use him often so if the Packers can keep him contained then they should have a good chance of keeping the Bears entire offense in check.
- Get the running game going! – Title says it all. If the numbers from last week are to be believed (about 5 yards per carry for the Colts) the Packers might be able to get something of a running game going. McCarthy has said he will continue to work the running game. Let’s hope he stays to his word this week.
- Keep your cool – It shouldn’t be lost on fans that this is the most heated rivalry in the NFL and it will be officiated by replacement refs. Who knows how they will handle all the post play antics of trash talking and chest bumping. If the flags start flying the Packers players will have to keep their cool so that penalties don’t become a major concern.
PS: Sorry for the lack of photos in the story. Work ran late and I have school in the morning. I will do my best to add some later. How do you think the game will go? Leave thoughts in the comments!