The Green Bay Packers will march into Soldier Field today looking to defeat the Chicago Bears for a second straight time this season ( 6 straight if they win) in an effort to claim their second straight divisional crown in as many years.
The Bears are looking to ward of another Packers defeat which would keep their own hopes of capturing the divisional crown alive—a win today would also keep their playoff hopes intact.
Each team however is ironically similar in that the Packers and the Bears have struggled to protect up front despite their own successes through the air.
Interestingly enough, both of these teams are still flirting with a post season berth despite significant injuries, and despite the fact that each team is arguably “incomplete”.
Both teams, however, know that a loss today will narrow that once wide open road towards the postseason.
Let’s look at a few keys to the game.
- Pressure won’t be enough for Green Bay after the Bears allowed the Packers to sack Jay Cutler seven times for minus 52 yards in Week 2—can’t see that happening again. Keeping the pressure on Cutler is paramount, yes, but the Packers have to be careful with their pressure packages and not leave themselves vulnerable to Chicago’s ground assault.
- Hit Chicago early and force them to play from behind. The Bears have enough ability to play a see-saw game with Green Bay which is very unadvisable. If the Packers can put the Bears on their heels early, they will force Chicago into an “air-primary” attack. This is a welcome situation for Green Bay who intercepted Jay Cutler 4 times in Week 2.
- Don’t underestimate Chicago; Run the damn ball. In the past two weeks, the Packers have been finding some unexpected success on the ground with RB Alex Green. Good, so USE IT! The Packers can’t underestimate a defense that makes a solid living on turnovers. Aaron Rodgers and company must find a way to execute a balanced attack, and that attack needs to start on the ground.
- I’m not going to mention the obvious point of not turning over the ball; rather, I am going to suggest this defense remembers just how deadly they are. The Chicago Bears defense is ranked 5th overall and they are among the top 10 in both sacks and interceptions. If the Bears wanna finally win at home against Green Bay they are going to have to create their own opportunities with that talented defense—offense alone will not be enough.
- Control the game with the very first possession by methodically plodding down the field rather than a fast hit. Keeping Aaron Rodgers on the bench is the best way to prevent him from hurting you, and the Bears can do that with Matt Forte. The Packers have struggled to stop the run this year, making that aspect of their defense an attackable soft point. Playing a game of control will limit what Jay Cutler has to do early which could allow him to find a rhythm; something he hasn’t found in his last six meetings against Green Bay.
- More involvement means greater success. The Bears need more than their big three on offense to win this game. With Earl Bennett out in this game, the Bears will need Devin Hester to step up and possibly Kellen Davis, but the coaches must get them involved. This isn’t the game to worry about trust issues with a specific player. This is a game where a good coach makes it perfectly clear that EVERYONE is needed today if they are to win and preserve everything they’ve worked for this season. Use those “ancillary” players early and often!
If you have any personal ideas on how either Green Bay or Chicago can win, leave your suggestion below and get the debate going.