Jeff Hanisch-US PRESSWIRE
We look at a six-pack of keys for the Bears to take down their division rivals.
1) Make Plays When The Plays Are There
The Packers don't often make mistakes, especially on offense. They don't often turn the ball over, they take sacks and live to fight another day, and while they'll take a big play if it's there, they'll also take the checks and grind their way to a first down (however "grinding" works through the air - either way, sounds dirty). So if there's an opportunity for the Bears to make a big play - be it an interception, a big passing play on a defensive back slip, et cetera, the Bears need to capitalize.
Suddenly Resurgent Gradually More Effective Packers' Running Game
No, the Packers aren't running forty times a game for 200 yards and four touchdowns. But the running game has been more and more effective, to the point where teams have to take it into consideration. And this is after Cedric Benson went off for 88 yards on 20 carries against the Bears in Week 2 - he's on IR, but Alex Green, James Starks and DuJuan Harris took note, for sure. Plus, the Bears' defense hasn't been so solid against the run lately, as they've fallen to tenth in rushing yards per attempt allowed. Watch for the Packers to try to run a little more when it's not as expected.
3) Quiet Efficiency
The first matchup was punctuated with the Bears trying deep play after deep play and getting punished, repeatedly, for it. But since then, it seems the Bears have learned to pick and choose their spots a little more. To that effect, the Bears should continue to rein it in a little - but without removing the deep threat. This ties into point one. Don't take unnecessary chances, live to fight another day, and the chances will eventually be there. Stay balanced and mix in the run and pass, and just make first downs.
4) We're Still Waiting, #2 Receiver, Whoever You Are...
Alshon Jeffery wasn't bad against the Vikings last week (3 receptions for 57 yards, TD) - not great, especially with the drop for a touchdown, and certainly not with falling on his face to allow an interception, but decent. That being said, the offense has needed a second receiving target all season, and hasn't consistently had one. If Marshall has another two reception day, unless they're both touchdowns I don't see how the Bears win this game unless another receiver is picking up the slack. Jeffery (again) or Earl Bennett need to come through this week.
5) Nick Roach: Be A Roach
And by that I mean, be persistent and refuse to go away in the running game. Roach isn't Brian Urlacher, especially in coverage, but in the running game, he's got the speed to cover holes and does so pretty well. As the Packers continue to run, watch for Roach, as he'll need to make some plays.
6) Razor-Sharp Focus
So, remember in week 2 how Roach was called for a "12 Men" penalty? Remember how the Packers unleashed the Fake Field Goal From Hell? Remember how the offensive line-- well, that one isn't Packers-specific, but you get the idea. You can't give a team like the Packers free yards or unexpected touchdowns like that. Handing out free points like Wal-Mart or HyVee hands out free food samples may be a good idea in the grocery industry, but against the Packers, it'll drop you to 8-6 faster than Roy Williams drops anything thrown in his direction.