Packers vs. Bears Preview
Green Bay Packers Injury Report
Out: DE Mike Neal (knee), LB Frank Zombo (shoulder). Probable: T Chad Clifton (knee), TE Jermichael Finley (ankle), RB Alex Green (achilles), CB Davon House (ankle), LB Clay Matthews (quadriceps), DE Ryan Pickett (foot), LB Vic So’oto (back), CB Tramon Williams (shoulder), CB Charles Woodson (foot)
The Packers may have lost free safety Nick Collins, but Charlie Peprah is an adequate backup and cornerbacks Woodson and Williams are ready to go for the game. The Bears passing game continues to have shaky pass protection. Quarterback Jay Cutler remains inconsistent and is prone to bad throws when he’s under pressure. Further, receivers Earl Bennett and Roy Williams are limited with injuries. The Bears ran only 11 running plays against the Saints last week. Expect that to change against the Packers. The Bears will try to use mult-talented running back Matt Forte to establish the run. The Packers, meanwhile, have stuffed the run in their first two games of the season. As the Panthers did last week, the Bears will focus on using Forte to establish an effective underneath passing attack to move the ball. If the Bears go heavy on passing, the Packers should be able to get to Cutler, who’s been sacked and NFL-high 11 times.
The Bears’ cover-2 defense has limited quarterback Aaron Rodgers to just one 300-yard passing game in seven meetings and just three touchdowns in the last five games. In the last three games against Chicago, Rodgers has thrown two touchdowns and four interceptions. To beat the Bears, Rodgers must play precision football and the Packers receivers must target the Bears safeties. The Packers offensive line must limit Julius Peppers and the Bears strong front line pass rush. Mike McCarthy must rely on running backs Ryan Grant and James Starks for a balanced offensive attack.
Offense: Packers left tackle Chad Clifton and right tackle Bryan Bulaga vs. Bears defensive ends Julius Peppers and Israel Idonije. Chicago depends on its front four to create pressure. So far, Clifton has the upper hand against Peppers, giving up zero sacks in three meetings. Idonije is a solid power rusher.
Defense: Packers outside linebacker Clay Matthews vs. Bears right tackle Frank Omiyale. If Matthews can take advantage of Omiyale and the leaky Bears offensive line, which is using its third combination in as many weeks, the Packers could have a field day.
Special Teams: Packers kicker Mason Crosby and punter Tim Masthay vs. returner Devin Hester. Crosby, with the benefit of the new kickoff rules, can use touchbacks to neutralize Hester. Masthay must use directional and high kicks to neutralize Hester, who has hurt the Packers in past meetings.
Prediction: If the Packers control both lines of scrimmage, they should get a big road win to go 3-0.
Packers 28, Bears 17