183. That's the number of times that the Bears have met the Packers to battle on the gridiron. The Bears are coming off of a humiliating loss that's reverted the talk of the nation back to the Bears being "who we thought they were." An atrocious offensive line performance, punctuated by the injury to Gabe Carimi's knee, has led people to questions the Bears, including some of the Bears themselves.
The Packers, on the other hand,are coming off a win against Cam Newton's second strong performance. The arrow seems to only point up for Green Bay right now, and we thought we'd get some insight. Brandon from Acme Packing Company was gracious enough to answer five of my questions, and I his. I've spent a fair amount of time there this week having them ask WCG Virtually Anything, and they've been nothing but excellent hosts. Thanks Brandon, and let's look forward to a great game.
What exactly is going on with the Pass Defense in Green Bay, and how much more do you expect the Nick Collins loss to hurt?
In the first game, Drew Brees happened. He had a 112.5 QB rating against the Packers in Week 1, and a 118.1 QB rating against the Bears in Week 2. Against the Panthers, Cam Newton has some skills. He's got a strong arm and throws a great deep pass. But he locks onto his primary receiver, and he isn't very good at figuring out Plan B, which is why he threw 3 INTs against the Packers. The Packers were also without starting CB Tramon Williams last week, and Newton threw his lone TD pass against his replacement. The good news in the absence of Nick Collins is that second year player Morgan Burnett is emerging at safety (1 sack, 1 INT, and 1 forced fumble last week), and with Charlie Peprah stepping back into a starting role due to Collins's injury, the secondary will look a lot like it did last year. Hopefully Charles Woodson's foot injury doesn't keep him out because I've nothing nice to say about his replacement (Jarrett Bush).
Do the Packers have an Achilles Heel? If so, what is it?
It's that the Packers offense, for some reason, struggles against the Bears defense. Maybe Urlacher and Briggs do a great job taking away the middle of the field from them. Maybe Lovie Smith is just too familiar with their offense and Mike McCarthy's preferences. Keep the score low, throw a couple touchdown passes, and beat them in a close game.
Chad Clifton is getting up there--do you have his replacement? Is he the weakest link of the offensive line?
2011 first round pick Derek Sherrod is the future, but Chad Clifton can still play and block one-on-one without any help. He's one of the oldest starters in the NFL, and the Packers give him a lot of time off in practice during the week. However, he and LG T.J. Lang (he'll be starting his 3rd career game at LG on Sunday) are the weak links because the rest of the line (C Scott Wells, RG Josh Sitton, and RT Bryan Bulaga) are all playing outstanding. Overall the offensive line has played great this season.
Do you expect the Packers to maintain the roughly 70-30 pass-run ratio they are currently using?
Some weeks they'll be pass happy, but the pass to run ratio will get closer to 60-40 as the season goes on. Right now they're picking their spots well. Football Outsiders currently has them ranked as the No. 1 run offense, and James Starks is averaging 6.8 yards per carry.
Coming off the Super Bowl, are fans ultimately happy with the organization? Is there any discontent with the GM, or any of the position coaches?
Everyone is happy with Mike McCarthy and Ted Thompson running the team. The current eight game winning streak helps keep any upset voices quiet, but there wasn't much complaining last season anyway. We've been grumbling about special teams coach Shawn Slocum for years at APC, but McCarthy is very loyal to him. The Packers allowed two long returns by Darren Sproles against the Saints, so it's not like his unit is showing major improvement.