Game Preview: Packers vs. Bears
CHICAGO BEARS (1-5)
vs. GREEN BAY PACKERS (3-2)
When: 7:25 p.m. Thursday.
Where: Lambeau Field.
Television: CBS, NFL Network.
Radio:Packers Radio Network (AM-620 in Milwaukee; AM-1360 in Green Bay)
Series: Bears lead, 94-92-6.
Line: Packers by 9 1/2.
Surface: DD GrassMaster.
Coaches: Green Bay’s Mike McCarthy (115-64-1) vs. Chicago’s John Fox (134-111).
FIVE THINGS TO WATCH
ROOKIE RUNNER: The Bears have had four 100-yard rushing games in the last six meetings against the Packers. Matt Forte had two in 2013, one in ’14 and one in ’15. From 2007-’12, their only 100-yard games against Green Bay came from Adrian Peterson in ’07 and Kahlil Bell in ’11. Jordan Howard, a rookie from Indiana, already has two 100-yard games. His backup, Ka’Deem Carey, had nine of his 13 carries Sunday against Jacksonville. “Howard has had a couple good games but I didn’t see vision,” said an executive in personnel. “I saw a big guy. The holes were there but these guys just didn’t find them. In the Jacksonville game there were instances where both of them ran into the backs of their linemen, which is always a bad sign. Howard is just a big, downhill back who runs tough and has a little speed once he breaks out. I just didn’t like his pick and slide.”
FIRST LOOK: Quarterback Brian Hoyer has been in the NFL for eight years, and with six teams. Yet, none of his 48 games have come against the Packers. “The ball is coming out extremely fast,” Jacksonville defensive coordinator Todd Wash said last week before playing Hoyer. “He is on rhythm. He can get to his first or second reads, and completing it. The thing we have to do is try to take those reads away and make him get to his third read, and make him start to feel the rush. If he doesn’t feel the rush and can sit back, he’s as good as any quarterback in the league.”
OFF THE EDGE: Outside linebacker Willie Young played six games against the Packers as a member of the Detroit Lions from 2010-’13 and four for the Bears the past two years. His lone sack as a Lion came in 2011 on a garbage play when no receiver was open. Last year, he registered a sack when NT Eddie Goldman beat T.J. Lang, knocking Bryan Bulaga off Young. He’s tied for fourth in the league with six sacks, including five in the last two games. “He is so underrated,” one personnel man said. “Just because he does it kind of awkwardly. He looks like a giraffe out there but the dude can get home. With that length and his ability he can consistently win one on one. He has been productive all of his career. He can rush inside as well.”
ON THE OUTSIDE: When WR Kevin White suffered a season-ending fibula injury in Game 4, free agent Cameron Meredith has stepped in to make 20 catches for 243 yards and one TD in the last two games. “He’s been interesting to me,” said one scout. “The guy came out of nowhere and played pretty good. Big, athletic guy. They’ve been featuring him at (times).” The No. 1 target remains Alshon Jeffery, who still doesn’t have a touchdown. “That’s crazy to me,” said the scout. “Alshon Jeffery is good but he’s not a special player. He’s like a red-zone target with no touchdowns. You can take him away. I’m surprised more teams haven’t.”
NEW FACES: With uncertainty at linebacker, the Packers would have done their homework last winter on unrestricted free agents Jerrell Freeman of Indianapolis and Danny Trevathan of Denver. The Bears signed them both to contracts containing $18 million in guarantees. “They’re undersized and nondescript,” said one scout. “Good instincts and quickness but get swallowed up at the point of attack. Freeman is the best. He’s adequate in coverage but shows tightness in space when isolated in man. Trevathan is solid with good range but has not been a difference-maker. Just because you pay them doesn’t change what they are.”
- Bob McGinn
VIEWS OF THE GAME
Chicagoland will be focused on the Cubs, not the Bears. It’s one of the least anticipated games in the 193-game rivalry, but sometimes crummy games turn out to be classics. Vic Fangio knows how to beat the Packers, and his rag-tag defense is giving great effort. The Packers sleep at their own peril.
The best news for the Packers is that they won't be facing a team the caliber of the Dallas Cowboys. The bad news is that they lost to basically the same Chicago Bears team at home last season. Given injuries on both sides and the short week, this stacks up to be a pretty average game. It should be a game of attrition. Packers 27, Bears 16
The apocalypse avoids Green Bay — at least for another week. The Packers and Bears will engage in an ugly, disjointed slugfest at Lambeau Field on Thursday night, and the team that's supposed to win will do just that. It won't be pretty, but Aaron Rodgers and Co. get the job done. Packers 19, Bears 13
Both teams are really banged up – the Packers won’t have their top three cornerbacks and two best running backs; Chicago won’t have, among others, its top two corners, two of its top three receivers (Kevin White and Eddie Royal) and quarterback Jay Cutler, though it’s debatable whether Cutler’s loss is a plus or minus. The Packers are a little desperate and at home against a one-win Bears team, so coach Mike McCarthy’s team gets the nod. Packers 21, Bears 17
The Packers are depleted at running back and cornerback, but the Bears have to be one of the worst teams in the NFL. Yes, Chicago marched into Lambeau Field last year, and shocked everyone with a win on the night Brett Favre was honored. This year, the Packers are beating the Bears. Packers 27, Bears 16