Chicago Bears Early Look Week 9: Green Bay Packers
Overview: The Chicago Bears are travelling to Lambeau Field this Sunday night to take on the Green Bay Packers, in a rivalry game that could shape the future of the NFC North this season. At 3-5, the Bears are in a bad spot right now. With multiple reports coming out about turmoil in the locker room combined with losing 4 of their last 5, the Monsters of the Midway have certainly seen better days. The Green Bay Packers, on the other hand, seem to be the exact opposite. After struggling to a 1-2 start early in the season, the Packers have now won 4 of their last 5 and look poised to make a run at a wild card spot if not another division championship. The Bears faithful can take heart in the fact that Green Bay did lose their last game in convincing fashion (44-23) to the New Orleans Saints, but it’s still hard to see this as a favorable matchup. Both teams are coming off their bye weeks, and with two weeks to prepare for each other, I view this as a matchup between head coaches more than anything.
Injuries: While the Bears have been dealing with a seemingly endless barrage of injuries this season, The Green Bay Packers are now just getting healthy. Both starting corner back Sam Shields and starting safety Morgan Burnett missed the week 8 showdown with the Saints, making the secondary the largest concern for the Packers. If either or both of these players missed the game this week it would be a huge bonus for the Bears and their dynamic wide receiver duo of Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery, but it seems unlikely since they’ve both had two weeks to recover and neither injury seems long-term. The Bears will have to look elsewhere to find advantage in this one.
Key Matchups: I could go on forever about how well the Bears’ wide receivers matchup against Green Bay’s secondary. I could talk about how the Bears have to shut down Eddie Lacy. There might even be a few of you who would like to hear me talk about Jay Cutler vs. Aaron Rodgers and how the quarterbacks will shape the outcome of this game. Instead, I’d like to bring up the one common point from all three of the Green Bay Packers’ losses this season: Jordy Nelson. In these losses Nelson was held to 9 receptions for 89 yards by the Seahawks, 5 receptions for 59 yards by the Lions, and 3 receptions for 25 yards by the Saints. Green Bay no longer has the depth at wide receiver that they used to. With Greg Jennings gone to Minnesota and James Jones in Oakland, the Packers are more reliant on Jordy Nelson than ever. If they can shut him down, the Bears have a chance of keeping this game competitive. That’s easier said than done, which brings me to my second point of emphasis: coaching. Lovie Smith was fired a couple of seasons ago due in no small part to his inability to defeat the Green Bay Packers in recent years. The Bears brought in Marc Trestman so that they could at least be on a level with the Packers offensively, but the jury is still out on whether or not that was the right move. Trestman is 1-2 against the Packers so far in his young head coaching career and this game will be telling of things to come.
The Way I See It: This is an extremely talented Bears’ roster and I still expect them to rebound and play some pretty good football before the season ends, but it has to start here if the Bears are going to have any hope of making the postseason. You might think I’m crazy for even thinking they have a shot in this one, but I’ve seen stranger upsets over the years from this rivalry. If the Bears used their bye week to galvanize the locker room and develop a solid game plan, then I think they actually have a shot to beat the Green Bay Packers in this one.
What do you guys think? Am I crazy, or do the Bears actually have a shot here? Sound off in the Comments.