Packers-Bears: 3 things to watch

Weston Hodkiewicz
View Comments

Aaron it out

Aaron Rodgers is 9-3 lifetime against the Chicago Bears with a 100.9 quarterback rating. He's also played some of his most memorable games in the wake of discouraging losses. Packers coach Mike McCarthy seems to agree that the offense must get the ball back in Rodgers' hands. Rodgers was pitching a R-E-L-A-X slogan to the team's fan base this past week, but there is some pressure to respond. He's thrown for less than 200 yards in three of his last four games (including playoffs), and each time has resulted in a loss. "It's just three games in, and I think the tendency is to be overly concerned, I'm sure," quarterbacks coach Alex Van Pelt said. "That's the nature of the beast there. … There's no more urgency in saying 'we have to go out and do this.' We'll stay the course." Like Detroit, the Chicago Bears' secondary has injury problems with veteran leader Charles Tillman (triceps) out for the season and safety Chris Conte (shoulder) questionable. Kyle Fuller seems like the real deal, but Randall Cobb must get on track from the slot. Unless the Packers get more receivers and tight ends involved, more defenses are going to roll coverage in Jordy Nelson's direction.

Pressure point

Packers linebacker Clay Matthews said Friday that this is the best Bears offense he's seen in his five-plus NFL seasons. Brandon Marshall (ankle) is questionable, but he and Alshon Jeffery quickly are becoming one of the most formidable receiver pairings in the NFL. Tight end Martellus Bennett (6-6, 265) had his best professional season with the Bears in 2013 and has 20 catches and four touchdowns in three games this season. For all the criticism of Dom Capers' scheme, one thing the Packers' defensive coordinator has been able to do consistently is get the worst out of Jay Cutler, who is 1-8 lifetime against Green Bay. He's off to one of the best starts of his career (80 of 121 for 750 yards, eight TDs, two INT), but his numbers drop significantly against the blitz. According to Pro Football Focus, Cutler has a pedestrian 84.9 quarterback rating when defenses send an extra rusher. Cutler will give the Packers' secondary a few chances at turnovers. It's up to the Packers' pass rush to force it out of him.

Game of backs

The Packers want Eddie Lacy to run better, and the Bears need Matt Forte to turns things around. Whichever side prevails in getting their running game going may be the team that walks out of Soldier Field with the victory. The Packers want to get the passing game more involved, so Lacy will have to make do with whatever snaps are tossed his way. During his rookie season, there were only four games in which Lacy received fewer than 20 carries. In three games, he's yet to carry the ball more than 13 times in a single game. The Bears' run defense is improved from last year's historically awful unit that allowed 160 yards per game to opposing offenses, but it's still not great. Lacy should have a perfect opportunity to build some momentum. Forte is averaging 3.2 yards per carry, but scorched the Packers for 336 total yards in two games last season. The Packers' 30th-ranked run defense must hold its ground.

View Comments