Bears vs Packers: Top 5 Matchups to Watch

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Sep 15, 2013; Green Bay, WI, USA; Green Bay Packers defensive coordinator Dom Capers looks on during warmups prior to the game against the Washington Redskins at Lambeau Field. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

4. Mel Tucker vs Dom Capers

Dom Capers is the NFC North’s grizzled veteran defensive coordinator  His arrival in 2009 matches Jay Cutler’s arrival in Chicago.  His defensive schemes are not quite as complex as what Rex Ryan had to throw at the Bears but he’s had Jay Cutler’s number for years.  His defense has been struggling a bit this year, especially the run defense.  The Packers are ranked 30th in rush defense and 20th in defense overall.  They’re not as vulnerable though the air, with the 6th ranked passing defense.

On the other side, Mel Tucker is holding his defense together with popsicle sticks and bubble gum.  The rash of injuries that plagued the Bears defense last season continues into this season.  They’ve already lost Charles Tillman for the season and will likely be without Jeremiah Ratliff and Shea McClellin.  But Kyle Fuller has been a revelation and the Bears defensive identity can best be summed up as gritty.  The Bears rank 26th against the run but have played three of the top running teams in the league.

We know what these offenses are capable of; it’s what the defenses and the moves these defensive coordinators make that will define the outcome of the game.

3. Julius Peppers vs Jared Allen

In the NFC North defensive end game of

Sep 7, 2014; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Bears defensive end Jared Allen (69) during the first quarter at Soldier Field. Mandatory Credit: Mike DiNovo-USA TODAY Sports

musical chairs, Peppers landed in Green Bay while Allen jumped from the Vikings to the Beloved.  It’s a couple of past-their-prime defensive ends trying to find the fountain of middle age and hoping a change of scenery can reinvigorate the twilight of their careers.

Allen has started his Bears career with a thud.  He’s gone three straight games without a sack, a first in his 11-year career.  He contends that playing against read-option quarterbacks like EJ Manuel, Colin Kaepernick and Geno Smith has slowed down his pass rush.  He’s graded out with a -2.6 grade in pass rushing and a pedestrian 0.1 overall.

Meanwhile, Peppers dropped about 20 pounds to shift from a DE to a 3-4 outside linebacker.  He’s off to a better start with the Packers, grading out at a +6.8 by PFF’s grading system and recorded his first sack and forced fumble against the Lions.

Getting a pass rush with just your front-4 and being able to drop more into coverage will be a key.  Whichever defensive front can get pressure and force a mistake will go a long way to winning the game.