Tonight sees the first game of the week two schedule take place as the Chicago Bears visit the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field, live on Sky Sports (for British viewers) and NFL Network (for American viewers). The game, already a huge fixture because of the historical rivalry between the teams, takes on added importance particularly for the Packers after their season opening defeat against San Francisco on Sunday. The Bears on the other hand will be looking to make a statement with a win in opposition territory following their convincing victory over the Indianapolis Colts at Soldier Field in week one.
Tale of the Tape
Previous Game: 41-21 versus Colts
Green Bay Packers
Previous Game: 22-30 (L) versus 49ers
When Chicago has the ball..
The Bears offense got off to a good start for the 2012 season against the Colts as they put a 40 burger on Indianapolis’s defense, with Matt Forte demonstrating his excellent rushing and receiving skills and Jay Cutler hooking up with his former teammate Brandon Marshall again. Cutler and Marshall combined to form an excellent duo in their Denver days, with Marshall actually setting the NFL record for receptions in a single game when Cutler was feeding him the ball. Against the Packers suspect secondary it’s easy to imagine Marshall having another good game, although the Bears other receiving options are limited, hence the reliance on Forte as a receiver out of the backfield. Green Bay will want Clay Matthews to pressure Cutler and force the Bears to run, but whether or not they can stop Forte and Michael Bush is another question.
When Green Bay has the ball..
Aaron Rodgers failed to reach the highs of last season against the 49ers Sunday afternoon, although it should be noted that he was up against one of if not the best defense in football. The Bears are no mugs when it comes to stopping the other team however and even though Brian Urlacher is ageing he still remains a powerful presence in the middle of any football field. Greg Jennings is a doubt for tonight and in his absence Jordy Nelson will have to step up, whilst Jermichael Finley will hope to eliminate the drops that have plagued his performances in the recent past from his game.
Players to Watch
Last week Rodgers was picked off by Navarro Bowman, the 49ers linebacker on a throw over the middle where Bowman made a terrifically athletic play. If Briggs can play up to his high standards and deliver the same kind of game changing play it could shift the game in favour of the underdog Bears. The Packers operate a high octane offense and are certain to put a fair amount of points on the board, the question is how many can Chicago limit them to and they’ll need the likes of Briggs and Brian Urlacher to step up. Safety Charles Tillman is another one to watch although he is questionable to play through injury.
The big nose tackle for the Packers will have a quite literally huge role to play in this game as he attempts to clog up running lanes that Matt Forte will be trying to exploit. Green Bay doesn’t have too many great players on defense, but Raji is one of the better individuals and if he can force Chicago to win the game through the air, or at least with runs to the outside, then their chances of winning increase significantly. Whether he can or not is another matter, so keep an eye on #90 when the Bears have the football.
This game really is a must win for the Packers, who will be desperate to avoid an 0-2 start after losing just one game the entire of last (regular) season. The Bears however know that a victory for them can really change the landscape not just of their division, but the entire NFC. Both teams will be equally motivated, and I really want to pick the Bears.. but I just can’t bring myself to predict the Packers falling to 0-2 with a quarterback as good as Aaron Rodgers leading the team. I predict Rodgers to come up big, as well as defensive weapons Charles Woodson and Clay Matthews making enough plays to help the team outscore Chicago at Lambeau. Packers win, 31-27