Week Four NFL Game Preview: Green Bay Packers at Chicago Bears

Week Four NFL Game Preview: Green Bay Packers at Chicago Bears
Which wide receiver tandem will put up the bigger numbers and lead their team to victory on Sunday?

The Green Bay Packers and Chicago Bears will go head-to-head for the 189th time ever this Sunday afternoon at 12 p.m. CT. The Bears hold a slight lead in the all-time series 93-89-6.

The Bears (2-1) have lost the last seven of eight games against the Packers (1-2), including the 2010 NFC Championship game.  

The last win by the Bears at Soldier Field against the Packers came in 2010 when kicker Robbie Gould made a 19-yard field goal with four seconds left in the game to win it.

Jay Cutler has been pretty bad in his career against Dom Capers’ defense in Green Bay, posting a 1-8 record, while Aaron Rodgers has owned the Bears with a 9-2 career record against them.

The tide may be turning however as Cutler was able to throw for two touchdowns for only the third time ever against the Packers in the season finale. He posted a 103.8 QB rating, which was the first over 100 for Cutler against the Pack.

However, despite a nice matchup this week with an average Packers defense, Cutler only went deep five times in the season finale loss to Clay Matthews and Co.

Alshon Jeffery and Brandon Marshall caught two of the five targets down the left sideline. Jeffery added a game-high 67-yard grab, while Marshall reeled in a 37-yarder. The two receivers combined for 154 yards on nine receptions.

Matt Forte exploded for 157 total yards and three touchdowns (2 rushing, 1 receiving). The Bears need to get their star back going against a Packers defense that is allowing 156 yards per game on the ground.

What the Packers are thinking

Rodgers always finds a way to put together solid games against the Bears no matter the circumstance. Last year, he frustrated the Bears by returning from injury in Week 17 only to knock off the Bears at home and keep them out of the postseason.

This time around it doesn’t look as easy for Rodgers, who has only one real star receiver in Jordy Nelson accompanied by the talented Randall Cobb. Outside of that, the Packers have two rookie receivers in Davante Adams and Jeff Janis, while Andrew Quarless leads the tight end group.

Nelson is by far the best of the bunch with a league-leading 351 yards through three weeks. But with a weak offensive line and a struggling Eddie Lacy (113 on 36 carries), this task is much tougher for Rodgers and Co.

The past is the past and neither team can dwell on it, but the Packers have to feel good about their chances simply because they’ll have Rodgers and a healthy Matthews back for this big divisional game.

The holes in the Bears’ defense lie in the secondary where Charles Tillman is gone and Kyle Fuller and Tim Jennings man the cornerback spots. Both have played well, but expect them to get thrown at plenty in this one.

Green Bay’s best bet at making plays in the trenches comes in the middle of the Bears’ offensive line. Rookie left guard Michael Ola and veteran center Brian de la Puente are starting for the injured Matt Slauson and Roberto Garza for the third consecutive game.

What the Bears are thinking

Forte is the key to the Bears’ success on Sunday. Even though they lost when he had a combined 157 yards and three touchdowns in last season’s season-ending loss, he’s integral in this game.

He’s run for only 136 yards on 42 carries after facing three stout run defenses in Buffalo, San Francisco and New York this season. But now he squares off in a plus matchup against a beatable Packers’ defense.

Jeffery and Marshall are going to be mismatches all afternoon long, something the Bears haven’t had much of in their past meetings with the green and yellow.

The Bears’ defense needs a healthy dose of Jared Allen, who missed practice all week with an illness. He’s squaring off against the Packers for the first time as a member of the Bears, while former Bear Julius Peppers will play against Chicago for only his second time in his career.

The Bears typically play better as underdogs, just look at the last two weeks on the road. Cutler has tossed six touchdowns compared to no interceptions the past two weeks and owns a career-high 66.1 completion percentage this season.

Cutler knows what he has to do help the Bears knock of visiting Green Bay. Play smart football.

A look ahead

The Bears will play on the road in back-t0-back two weeks before welcoming Miami to Soldier Field and traveling to New England prior to a Week Nine bye.

Read up on the five Bears players you should keep an eye on in Sunday’s matchuphere.

Injury Report

Bears – OUT: Roberto Garza (ankle), Shea McClellin (hand), Sherrick McManis (quadriceps), Jeremiah Ratliff (concussion), Matt Slauson (ankle); QUESTIONABLE: Brandon Marshall (ankle), Jared Allen (illness), Chris Conte (shoulder); PROBABLE: Ryan Mundy (stinger), Trevor Scott (foot).

–Garza, McClellin, McManis, Ratliff and Slauson are all out for the second consecutive week. Garza and Slauson seem closer to returning than any of the five veterans.

—Marshall hasn’t practiced all week, but that could certainly be a plan to let the star receiver’s ankle heal properly. Expect him out there despite his questionable tag. Allen has been away from this week Halas Hall with an illness and Conte was limited on Friday. All three players listed as a questionable should be able to suit up.

—Mundy will start despite suffering an injury that only allowed him to play on 48 percent of defensive snaps last week. Scott returns from a foot injury he suffered in Week 2.

Packers – QUESTIONABLE: Jarrett Boykin (knee, groin), Brad Jones (quadriceps); PROBABLE: Bryan Bulaga (knee), Davon House (knee), Clay Matthews (groin), Nick Perry (wrist).

—Matthews suffered a groin strain in last week’s loss in Detroit, but has progressed quickly since being limited on Wednesday and Thursday. The Packers didn’t practice on Friday, but they will hold a light practice on Saturday, where Matthews figures to be able to participate fully.

“Provided there’s no setbacks, I expect myself to be out there on Sunday. It feels good,” Matthews said via Packer Report on Friday.

—Green Bay’s No. 3 receiver, Boykin is a game-time decision after suffering a groin injury in Thursday’s practice. Rookies Davante Adams and Jeff Janis will earn more snaps if he can’t go. Jamari Lattimore should draw the start at inside linebacker with Jones healing up.

Final Score Prediction 

Bears 30, Packers 24

The Packers have been ineffective offensively thus far, while the Bears have been solid all both sides of the ball. The Bears’ defense has scored 35 points off eight turnovers this season. Turnovers will be hard to come by against Rodgers and Co., so this could be the week where the Bears’ offense breaks out in a big way.

Season predictions (1-2).

Qwikcast.com Weather Report

Partly cloudy. Highs in the upper 70s inland, but only in the lower 70s near the lake. Light and variable winds in the morning becoming east around 10 mph in the afternoon.

Thoughts on the Packers-Bears matchup on Sunday afternoon? Make sure to weigh in on the comment section below.

 

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