Monty: The Green Bay Packers and Chicago Bears are on opposite sides of the football map. The Packers are riding high on a four-game winning streak, sporting a rejuvenated offense and the NFL’s No. 1 ranked defense, with a playoff berth within reach. The Bears have lost four of their last five with an underachieving offense and a beat up defense. At 5-7, the Bears playoff chances are all but gone.
On paper, this is a total mismatch. The Bears offense is 31st in the league in rushing (88 yards/game) and quarterback Jay Cutler leads the league in interceptions (20). The Packers defense is ranked fourth against the run (87.2 yards/game) and is second in interceptions (21).
The Bears defense isn’t the dominant unit it used to be, ranking 15th in the league and 22nd in points per game, with 22.5. The Bears have lost linebackers Brian Urlacher and Piso Tinoisamoa to season-ending injuries. Further, linebacker Lance Briggs has been battling a knee injury. Still, the Bears defense is no pushover.
They are solid against the pass (ninth, 204.5 yards/game), so their matchup with Aaron Rodgers and the Packers’ suddenly inconsistent receiving corp will be an interesting one.
Additionally, the Bears have a huge advantage in special teams, if not because the Packers are completely terrible in all aspects, because they sport two of the league’s best return men in Johnny Knox (29.4 yards/kickoff return) and Danieal Manning (24.7).
Still, the Packers are riding high and are better in almost every aspect of the game. The Bears are in turmoil. They’re pointing fingers internally and consistently kill themselves. Sounds like a recipe for a blowout.
Not likely. If the Bears have any pride, and I’d place a large wager they do, they’ll make this game interesting. Even in the 80s when the Packers were terrible and the Bears were a perennial power, the Packers played competitive games vs. the Bears. This is the rivalry. This is the Packers and the Bears. This is NFC North football.
Despite the obvious mismatches, this will be a slugfest.
Packers 21, Bears 17
Steffen: I’m excited about the Green Bay Packers. In the midst of a four game win streak, how can I not be? The offensive line has improved and the team as a whole is playing aggressive, exciting football. The Packers are talented and dynamic. I buy into the players 100 percent.
The coaching staff, on the other hand, has more to prove to me.
This week, the Packers face their classic arch nemesis, the Chicago Bears. To say the Bears’ season has been disappointing is a huge understatement. At 5-7, they are pretty much out of the playoff picture.
As it turns out, Jay Cutler wasn’t the magical savior many hoped he would be (don’t count him out, though) and head coach Lovie Smith, once the Packer-killing darling of the Windy City, is on the bubble. Even though some may warn that this is a classic trap game for a team riding high, common sense and expert opinion says that the Packers should easily win this game.
But this a divisional game. This is Bears vs. Packers. So you can throw all of that out the window.
This game will come down to whichever coaching staff has their team properly motivated and focused. Mike McCarthy and his staff are sometimes guilty of getting complacment. They don’t coach with a chip on their shoulder, but with all the criticism dropped on them this season, they should. They should be out to prove everyone wrong. They should be gunning to humiliate Chicago and finally put Lovie “We’re Going To Beat Green Bay Every Year” Smith out to pasture.
Something tells me they won’t. The Bears will be geeked to get revenge on their home field and in the end, the Packers’ horrendous special teams will finally cost them a game.
Bears 23, Packers 21