The Bears and Packers this week will hook up to continue the oldest rivalry game in the NFL. This year will be one of only a few in recent memory where both teams have the same to lose. The Bears are currently tied for first place in the division with Minnesota at 5-4. The Packers are only a game back at 4-5. It is possible that this division comes down to tie breakers including divisional games. The Bears are currently 3-0 (two versus Detroit and one versus Minnesota) and could take a big step toward putting that tie break in their back pocket.
Once taking the reigns of the Chicago Bears head coach Lovie Smith made two promises. One was to return this team to greatness and the Super Bowl. While still working on the greatness one, he did return them to the big game. The first and most important was to beat the Green Bay Packers and he has delivered in aces. In his first 4 years Smith has a 6-2 record against the Cheeseheads. That is likely the best 4 year record the Bears have had by a long shot in the last 20 years.
AIRron Rodgers vs. Footrace Forte...
|2008 - Aaron Rodgers||8||95.3||167||262||63.7||1982||247.8||7.6||13||5||32||124||15.5||3.9||3||17||105|
Both teams look to dominate on offense, but from different approaches. The Bears have allowed the last 4 QBs they have faced to have their best games of the season and in some cases (Matt Ryan) their career. Unable to run the ball the Pack have relied on the arm of Favre replacement Aaron Rodgers and he has been delivering. Rodgers is rated 5th in the league in QB Rating at 93.3. He has 13 TDs to 5 INTs. The Packers are loaded at the wide receiver spot with Donald Driver, Greg Jennings and Jordy Nelson. The Bears secondary will know if the practice and/or shuffling of players helped any real fast.
|2008 - Matt Forte||8||169||641||80.1||3.8||50||4||30||228||28.5||7.6||19||2|
The Bears will look to grind out yardage, eat up the clock and keep Rodgers and company with a steady diet of rookie Matt Forte. Green Bay ranks 28th in the league while allowing 154.6 yards per game. The Bears will need a good performance from Forte since the Packers have the league's 3rd ranked pass defense allowing only 179.1 yards a game. The Bears will have their QB back as Orton is expected to start. The Bears don't have a true #1 receiver and have 3 extremely good non-receiver pass catchers in Forte and TEs Desmond Clark and Greg Olsen. If the Bears have any success through the air, it could very well be to them.
Bucking a tradition...
When Green Bay decided they were not bringing back Brett Favre, most fans were hoping Aaron Rodgers could emulate the Packer legend, but in this game it is the Bears who hope he emulates Favre. Coaches harp that turnovers win the game and that the Bears/Packers games of late have been shining proof. In the Bears last 6 victories over the Pack their D has tallied 14 INTs, 13 fumbles, 2 blocked punts and 3 TDs. Even in a Packers win turnovers have been a factor. In one win GB still had 2 INTs returned for touchdowns and 4 fumbles.
The Packers have been faring better with Rodgers at the helm than they did with Favre. The Packers have only given up 5 INTs and 5 fumbles. The Bears despite their defensive woes still lead the league in takeaways with 20. On the flip side the Packers have run up 14 takeaways while the Bears have given away 13.
|2008 - Kyle Orton||8||90.8||151||244||61.9||1777||222.1||7.3||10||4||13||45||5.6||3.5||1||15||83|
|2008 - Ryan Grant||8||157||550||68.8||3.5||57||1||4||8||1.0||2.0||8||0|
I'm expecting this to be a fairly evenly contested game. The Pack will get their yards in the air and the Bears on the ground. How each team does with the other aspect of the ball could be the deciding factor. I will take Orton against their D over Ryan Grant against ours.