Keys To The Game: Week Four Against The Packers

Keys To The Game: Week Four Against The Packers
Can the Bears revenge last season's season-ending loss to Green Bay that kept them out of the playoffs?

The Bears return home just in time to face their biggest rival Green Bay on Sunday.

The last time the Packers and Bears met at Soldier Field this early in the season was in Week 4 of the 2011 season when Aaron Rodgers and Co. beat the Bears handily 27-17.

Prior to Marc Trestman’s arrival in 2013, quarterback Jay Cutler had never posted a QB rating of 100 or more in his NFL career against the Packers. In his lone start against Green Bay in the Week 17 finale, Cutler tossed two touchdowns, one interception and finished with a QB rating of 103.8

Even with the tough loss that ended the Bears season, Cutler had something at his disposal that he never had in any past meeting with the Packers, a solid offensive line and legitimate weapons around him.

Cutler against Green Bay as a Bear

1-8 record; dropping seven in a row

11 touchdowns, 17 interceptions and a QB rating of 62.2

The last win against the Packers with Cutler under center came in Week 3 of 2010, when the Bears snuck past Green Bay 20-17. But that same season the Packers defeated the Bears in Week 17 to sneak their way into the playoffs before beating them in Chicago in the NFC Championship.

Redemption is long overdue to say the least for the Bears. The Packers have completely dominated the Bears over the past five seasons.

Green Bay still has Rodgers on their side, but with a beatable offensive line and a weak supporting cast around him, these aren’t the same Packers of old.

Jermichael Finley and James Jones are both gone, leaving receivers Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb are nice players, but the rest of the cast is mainly unproven youngsters.

The Packers offense is averaging around 289 yards per game, ranking 28th overall, while they’ve only averaged 18 points per game this season, ranking them 27th.

On the defensive side, Green Bay has allowed opponents to convert 50 percent of the time on third-downs, which is fourth-worst mark in the league after three weeks.

Injury Report

GB —Good news for the Packers came on Wednesday however with the return of Clay Matthews to practice (groin). He missed part of Sunday’s loss in Detroit, but took part in individual drills and looks to be on track to play against the Bears, according to Tom Silverstein of the Journal Sentinel.

CHI —For the Bears, strongside linebacker Shea McClellin (hand) has been ruled out by head coach Marc Trestman as he called him week-to-week. Lineman Roberto Garza and Matt Slauson are day-to-day, but might be given more time to heal up.

—Lastly, safeties Ryan Mundy and Chris Conte would have been limited if the Bears had practiced on Wednesday, but Mundy said that he expects to play, per Tribune’s Rich Campbell.

Keys to the Game

Here are the three keys to a Bears victory on Sunday against the visiting Packers.

Get to the ball to Forte

The seventh-year pro has been very active in 12 career games against Green Bay. Forte has averaged 109.4 total yards per game, while touching the ball 21.4 times per outing. However, prior to last season Forte had scored only one time against the Packers (2008). He went off on Green Bay in two games totaling 336 yards on 55 touches with four touchdowns (3 rushing, 1 receiving). The Bears need to take advantage of the Packers vulnerable run defense that ranks last with five touchdowns allowed and third-worst in yards allowed per game (156). If the Bears can get things going again on the ground that could be huge. Forte has only 54 yards on 25 carries the last two weeks.

Pressure Rodgers 

The Bears have been much improved at pressuring opposing quarterbacks. In three games this season, they’ve faced quarterbacks that all run the read-option and are very good scramblers. Rodgers is great at eluding pressure, but his offensive line is week and the Bears have generated eight sacks this season. On Monday night against the Jets, they pressured Geno Smith eight times. The Packers have allowed the third-most sacks this season with nine and the offensive line has been shaky at best in front of Rodgers. The battle in the trenches is always important against Rodgers, but with a revamped unit on their side, the Bears could be very successful against the Packers’ weak starting five.

Score Early

Leading the league in turnovers forced (6 interceptions, 4 forced fumbles) is a great sign for a turnaround on the defensive side of the ball for the Bears. Mundy’s pick-six on the second play of the night in New York was huge for the momentum swing as the game progressed. If the Bears can get on the scoreboard in the early going it will help take pressure off of the play-calling on both sides of the ball. The offense hasn’t even showed its full potential this season with Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery not playing at 100 percent lately. The Bears don’t want this game to turn into a shootout, so adding points early could put the Packers in comeback mode for a good portion of the game.

Thoughts on the key to a Bears victory?

Make sure to weigh in on the comment section below.

Linebacker help

The Bears signed linebacker Darryl Sharpton on Wednesday. The 26-year-old Miami product has made 19 starts with 161 tackles for the Texans over the last four seasons. He was signed by the Redskins this off-season, but he suffered an ankle injury and was placed on injured reserve. The move reunites Sharpton with his former linebacker coach Reggie Herring, who he played three of his fours seasons for in Houston.

Coming Thursday: Key Matchup

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