I don't believe in litmus test or turning point games this early in the season but I'm starting to sense that's exactly what faces the Chicago Bears this week at Soldier Field. The Super Bowl champions are coming to town having been handed a blueprint for scrambling the Mind of Martz by Gregg Williams and the defensive coaches down on the bayou. I can see this game going two ways: (1) The Bears stabilize their issues and deliver an inspired effort on the lakefront or (2) Injuries, flaws, coaching issues compound and the Bears are watching Matt Flynn throw passes in the fourth quarter.
WHY DO I LIKE THE CHICAGO BEARS THIS WEEK?
- I always like the Chicago Bears.
- I have to believe the Bears are going to play angry this week because if they don't play angry this week there isn't much to them. Their coaches looked like fools in New Orleans. Their offensive linemen looked like amateurs. Their quarterback looked like he was ready to shoot someone in the face with a gun. What better remedy than your oldest rivals in front of your fans?
- This rivalry of late is as balanced as it gets. Including the postseason, Lovie Smith is 8-7 against the Packers. Mike McCarthy is 6-5 against the Bears. Throw the records out.
- Three things scare me about the Packers: (1) Their ability to bring linebacker pressure off the edges. (2) The ability of their corners to muscle the Bears wide receivers off their routes at the line of scrimmage. (3) Jermichael Finley.
- (1) The Bears have to design protection schemes that border on max-protect. Two tights on occasion. Use the fullback Clutts as a blocker. But perhaps most importantly, the Bears need to be less willing to release Matt Forte over the middle and keep him at home to protect the quarterback.
- (2) The Bears HAVE TO take shots deep. The absence of Nick Collins for the Pack leaves them more vulnerable to the deep ball and the only way you can get corner to play off receivers is by threatening them with long-range passes. With the amount of speed at the position for Chicago, it will only require a three second pocket.
- (3) Jimmy Graham had 6 catches for 79 yards but more important than the stats were the situations wherein he made the catches: big third downs late. Tony Gonzalez had 5 catches for 72 and the same can be said. At this stage in all their respective careers, Jermichael Finley is the best of the three and he's capable of taking over Sunday afternoon. The Bears need to hit him off the line of scrimmage and defend him with anything but a linebacker (and preferably a cover corner). To be fair, I don't think this will happen.
- I'm starting to think Matt Forte might be a great player and I expect the Bears to rely heavily on him Sunday. Both the Saints and Panthers had success running the ball against the Packers but both decided to put the game on the arm of their star quarterback. (Yes it's fair to call Cam Newton a star.) 24 carries, 121 yards and 2 touchdowns.
- Robbie Gould has been consistently knocking the ball through the end zone. Mason Crosby has not. Devin Hester has been a shoestring tackle away from breaking a touchdown in both of the first two games. I think he makes a big play on specials.
- Chris Harris will stabilize the safety position. Roy Williams will stabilize the wideouts and win a big one-on-one battle on a crucial third down.
- I like the Bears of this era when they're angry and feeling unloved.
Bears 27, Packers 26
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