The 195th meeting between the Chicago Bears and Green Bay Packers will take place tonight on Thursday Night Football.
Bears-Packers is always a special matchup but this one has even more at stake than usual. The historic rivalry that began in 1921 is currently tied at 94-94-6. Green Bay last led the series in 1932.
In fact, it has been all Packers since 2009 as they’ve beaten the Bears 14 out of the last 17 times. Two of the three Bears victories came at Lambeau Field, the site of tonight’s game.
Green Bay sits atop the NFC North at 2-1 alongside Detroit and Minnesota while the Bears are 1-2 after earning their first win of the season last week against Pittsburgh.
Questions along the Packers offensive line remain with both starting tackles David Bakhtiari and Bryan Bulaga doubtful. However, Aaron Rodgers is still under center and he is always hard to stop.
Can the Bears impressive front-7 slow Green Bay’s offense down? Can Mike Glennon be more than just a check down passer with backs Jordan Howard and Tarik Cohen running the show?
All of that and more should be answered in this game. Expect a physical battle.
What the Packers are thinking
It is rather amazing what Green Bay pulled off last week in a 27-24 overtime win over Cincinnati. Rodgers was sacked six times and now faces the possibility that both of his starting tackles will be out, Bulaga and Bakhtiari.
Top three backups Kyle Murphy, Jason Spriggs and Don Barclay are already on injured reserve. Fourth-year pro Ulrick John was signed on Tuesday. He has five games, three starts to his name. To say the Packers are thin up front is an understatement. Bulaga and Bakhtiari both got in limited practice sessions the past two days.
On a short week, Green Bay will have to patch things up for Rodgers. He’s averaging 322 passing yards and two touchdowns per game this season.
The Bears held Rodgers to a 289 passing yard per game average in the two annual meetings a year ago. Running back Ty Montgomery totaled 289 yards from scrimmage and two touchdowns against the Bears last season.
Green Bay’s top three receivers are healthy again with Davante Adams, Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb. Former Bears tight end Martellus Bennett will face his old team for the first time since being traded to New England last off-season.
Defensively, tackle Mike Daniels is highly questionable with a hip injury. That could pave the way for rookie Montravius Adams to make his first career start. Also, Davon House has been ruled out with a quad issue meaning Quinten Rollins will start in his place.
The Packers have been stingy on third down allowing opponents to convert just 34 percent of the time. They have nine sacks led by rookie safety Josh Jones’ two.
What the Bears are thinking
“The Howard and Cohen Show” makes its way to primetime. The duo accounted for 75 percent of the Bears’ offense with 226 total yards in last week’s 23-17 overtime win over Pittsburgh.
Cohen leads the team in receptions (20), yards (283) and yards after catch (71). Howard, who broke out in a big way last week has 239 total yards and three of the team’s six offensive touchdowns this season.
Of course, the Bears will be limited by the man under center, Glennon. He completed just one pass to a wide receiver, a nine-yarder to Deonte Thompson last week. In fact, his 101 passing yard total was the lowest in a Bears win since Caleb Hanie and Todd Collins combined for a measly 51 yards in a win over Carolina in 2010.
A lot has changed since these two teams met last October on Thursday night. Brian Hoyer was the starting quarterback, Ka’Deem Carey led the team in rushing and Zach Miller and Alshon Jeffery were the top two receivers statistically.
Only Miller remains from that list. There are opportunities in the middle of the field for Miller to get open. However, I think rookie tight end Adam Shaheen will see more playing time after catching his first career touchdown last week.
Flip over to the defense and Akiem Hicks is a worrisome late addition to the injury report. He popped up earlier Thursday with a foot issue that plagued him for a series last week. The veteran has two of the team’s seven sacks along with a fumble recovery.
To take full advantage of Rodgers’ banged-up line, the Bears need Hicks alongside his cast that features nose tackle Eddie Goldman and outside linebackers Willie Young, Leonard Floyd and Pernell McPhee. This should be a game where Jonathan Bullard and Roy Robertson-Harris see plenty of snaps.
Floyd is due for a sack after being held without one through three games. He had a ton of success against Green Bay in 2016.
The key is for this defense to make plays when it is on the field and slow down Rodgers as much as they can. Glennon and the offense has to sustain long drives and put points on the board for them to have a chance.
It should be close, but it is hard to pick against Rodgers especially when he goes up against the Bears. He plays extra hard in these meetings. Plus, Glennon doesn’t inspire too much confidence.
Final Score Prediction
Packers 27, Bears 20
Prediction record: 1-2
Packers – OUT: CB Davon House (quad); DOUBTFUL: T David Bakhtiari (hamstring) and T Bryan Bulaga (knee); QUESTIONABLE: DL Mike Daniels (hip) and LB Nick Perry (hand).
Bears – OUT: S Quintin Demps (forearm); DOUBTFUL: LB Nick Kwiatkoski (chest); QUESTIONABLE: DE Akiem Hicks (foot), C Hroniss Grasu (hand) and G Josh Sitton (ribs).
Weather.com Weather Report
It will be 61 degrees and cloudy by kickoff with a 15 percent chance of rain and WSW 5 mph.
A look ahead
The Bears have nine days to prepare for Minnesota (2-1) in a Monday Night Football home matchup. This could be where we finally see rookie quarterback Mitchell Trubisky earn his first start.
Thoughts on the Bears-Packers Week 4 matchup? Make sure to weigh in on the comment section below.