Finally, it is that time of year again. It’s Bears vs. Packers time and both teams are limping on to the field to compete in the greatest rivalry since the inception of the NFL.
Do Packer fans see this game as a trap game with the Bears coming off a bye week and limping into Lambeau Field?
I don’t think anyone sees a game against the Packers division rival as a trap game. Anytime the Chicago Bears come to town there is a lot of anticipation for the game and anything could really happen. It does help the Packers’ chances that both Cutler and Briggs won’t suit up and the game will be at home, but the Bears are still a talented and competitive team. No one is overlooking them this week.
Brandon Marshall, Alshon Jeffery, and Matt Forte are dangerous offensive weapons and will give the Packers defense plenty to prepare for this week. In my opinion, Packers fans tend to err on the side of overestimating Green Bay’s opponents. Last week, there was a lot of talk about how the Vikings could upset the Packers at the Metrodome with a big game from Adrian Peterson. This week, fans seemed to be concerned about how well Green Bay’s secondary can defend Chicago’s big receivers and how well their offense will protect the ball from a Bears defense that is good at forcing turnovers.
Each week presents new worries. Passionate fans tend to worry because they care so much about the game. This is only magnified when it’s a division opponent. It’s part of the beauty of the Packers fanbase. They’re passionate. They care. And they have respect for Green Bay’s opponent, despite their record or injury situation coming into the week.
Are you surprised at the emergence of the run game in Green Bay?
Yes, I’m definitely surprised. I knew drafting Eddie Lacy in the second round and adjusting their offensive line would help improve their ground game, but I never anticipated it would be this productive at this point in the season. When you sit back and look at it, it’s pretty incredible what Mike McCarthy and his coaching staff have done with this offense considering their injuries at receiver.
The Packers have been forced into being a more balanced offense, and I think it’s better for them in the long run. Green Bay currently ranks third in the league in rushing yards per game (141.4), which is shocking considering they’ve finished in the bottom ten in this category the past few seasons. Lacy has rushed for 395 yards in the past four games, which is more than any other back in the league during this time. He’s been a game-changer, and now with James Starks healthy and coming off the bench, Green Bay finally has that 1-2 punch in the backfield they’ve been lacking for years.
What is the Packers most favorable matchup against the Bears?
Good question. I’m going to go on a limb here and say the Packers interior offensive line against the Bears defensive tackles. This will be a matchup to keep a close eye on Monday night. Guards, Josh Sitton and T.J. Lang, are having outstanding seasons so far, and center Evan Dietrich-Smith is effective blocking in the run game.
The performance of this trio is at the heart of the Packers improvement in the run game this season. They’ve dominated against teams with talented defensive lines like Cincinnati, Detroit, and Baltimore. Considering the Bears will be without their best defensive tackle, Henry Melton, and top reserve, Nate Collins, the Packers interior offensive line will challenge young starters, Corey Wootten and Stephen Paea.
Green Bay will look to run the ball, control the clock, and test the interior of the Bears defense. This matchup could set the tone for the game.
What is the Packers most unfavorable matchup against the Bears?
Forte has the potential to give Green Bay’s defense some problems. The Packers run defense has improved this season, and I think stopping Forte on the ground will be their first priority this Monday night. However, Forte’s ability as a receiver out of the backfield is something defenses have to account for. This is where the veteran back could do his damage against Green Bay.
Forte averages 7.5 yards per reception and will be tough for the Packers linebackers and safeties to defend. My guess is that Green Bay will use a slot corner, like Micah Hyde, to shadow Forte on passing downs. Safety M.D. Jennings will be another player that may matchup against Forte, but overusing a safety to guard Forte may open up the middle the field for tight end Martellus Bennett.
The Packers will definitely have to pick their poison in pass defense. Hopefully, they can get enough pressure on Josh McCown to prevent Bennett and Forte from taking advantage of these miss-matches.
What is your prediction for the game, including a final score?
Given the injuries at quarterback and on defense for the Bears and the fact the game will be played at Lambeau Field, I think Green Bay will win this one. The key for the Packers will be protecting the ball on offense against a Bears defense that lives and dies off of forcing turnovers and controlling the game with their play at the line. Can the Packers offensive line protect Rodgers and open holes for the running game? Can the Packers defensive front negate Forte from impacting the game and get pressure on McCown?
In my opinion, this will determine the game. Regardless, it should be a good contest between two teams that have a lot on the line. A classic battle between two tough NFC North opponents.
Final Score: GB 34, CHI 24
I want to thank Dan Dahlke for taking the time out of his busy schedule to answer our questions this week. Make sure you head on over to Lombardi Ave to find out all about our rival Green Bay Packers.