The Bears head to Lambeau Field for a Christmas night matchup that has the looks of a lump of coal in our stockings more than an awesome present that we had been anticipating until about 5 weeks ago when Jay Cutler’s broken thumb sidetracked the Bears’ playoff hopes. Meanwhile the Packers are 13-1 and coming off their first loss of the year. To help us get prepped for the game, we’ve enlisted the help of Ray Rivard from Lombardi Ave with a special Christmas edition of 5 Questions.
1. The Packers finally lost a game. Does that help take some of the pressure off? How does that affect their preparations for the Bears on Sunday night?
According to Mike McCarthy, the loss to the Kansas City Chiefs doesn’t make any difference with his team as for preparation and planning. The loss and the breaking of the streak hurts, but it’s just one game. The team is 13-1 and must focus on that fact and continue to try to improve from game to game. It’s a simple approach, but has been a winning formula for McCarthy and his troops. As for preparations, the only difference between this week is trying to put together a game plan around an offensive line that’s held together with baling wire and twine … as well as designing a defensive scheme that gets after Josh McCown and gets the defense off the field on third down.
2. If the 49ers lose to the Seahawks on Saturday the Packers clinch the #1 seed in the NFC. Do you think they still go all out to beat the Bears or do they back off at all?
I think that if the Packers go into Sunday night’s game with home field advantage already sealed up, McCarthy will be very careful with his starters … I say if home field is clinched, the starters play the first half and sit the second. McCarthy will do his best to put his team into position to win, but if it comes down to getting his reserves some playing time and protecting his starters from injury, he will do that. My thought is that only key starters like Rodgers, Starks, Finley, Woodson, Matthews and Tramon Williams will be pulled.
3. The Packers are pretty beat up on the offensive line. How the heck do they protect Aaron Rodgers from the pass rush of Julius Peppers and Company?
They should call a lot of draws, screens, rollouts and quick slants to be sure that the ball gets out of Rodgers’ hands quickly and to slow the Bears’ pass rush. We’ll see, but I’m thinking McCarthy might lean more heavily on the run and hope he can pick up first downs and keep the clock moving. It will be interesting to see what he comes up with to keep the Bears on their heels.
4. It’s no secret the Bears are pretty banged up too, especially on offense. No Cutler, Forte, Knox, Barber and possibly Devin Hester. Josh McCown, who hasn’t started an NFL game in 4 years is in for the horrible Caleb Hanie at quarterback. Is there any chance this ragtag bunch on the Bears offense can do anything against the Packers in Lambeu?
All you have to do is go back to last week for the Packers. When they lost to the Chiefs, there were only a handful of people on the planet who thought that could happen. I was one who thought that would never occur.
So, to answer your question frankly, yes, there is at least a chance the Bears could walk out of Lambeau Field with a win. However, with that said, the probability that will happen is slim. I feel the Packers will come into this game with a chip on their shoulder and will find a way to wear down the Bears’ defense and come away with enough points for at least a two-touchdown difference in the final score. But you also gotta remember this is Bears vs. Packers. There have been so many games over the years that have turned on a fumble, interception or injury … it’s a division rivalry that is simply the best in the NFL. It should be a great game.
5. What’s your prediction for the game. Please be gentle.
With both teams’ offenses really suffering at this point in the season, I feel this could be a close game for at least the first half. However, I just don’t see the Bears hanging with the Packers for an entire 60 minutes. If the Packers stick with their starters throughout the game, they win by two touchdowns. If they pull their main men after the first half, it could be much closer.
But in the end, I see the Packers winning 24-10.
Go ahead and head over to Lombardi Ave to see my answers to Ray’s questions.