Opposite Sideline: Cold could benefit Bears
The lowdown on the Green Bay Packers' next opponent from a beat writer who covers the team.
The Green Bay Packers head to Chicago riding a three-game winning streak and fighting for their playoff lives. They will face a Chicago Bears team that has been eliminated from postseason contention but has made marked improvement over the last month.
We caught up with Kevin Fishbain, who covers the Bears for the Northwest Herald and got his thoughts on Sunday afternoon's matchup. You can find his answers to our questions in the video above and the text below.
1. How do you expect the Bears to attack the Packers’ defense Sunday? Can we expect to see a lot of Jordan Howard?
"The best way for the Bears to win is to feed Jordan Howard early and often. It's an obvious plan against the Packers, but factoring in the weather and the Bears' limitations in the passing game (third-string quarterback, second-string receivers), Dowell Loggains' game plan should be all about Howard. Maybe even Jeremy Langford and Ka'Deem Carey, too. Sometimes the play caller can't help himself though, and with Alshon Jeffery back in the lineup, they'll try to hit a couple big plays — and Matt Barkley has shown he can make the throw — but the Packers did a good job on Jeffery in Week 7."
2. With all the problems John Fox has had with his safeties, is it safe to assume Vic Fangio will keep things somewhat simplified on defense vs Aaron Rodgers?
"Last week, we saw more blitzes than usual from Vic Fangio against Matthew Stafford and the Lions. The result? Stafford feasted on Bears safeties, making big plays to Eric Ebron and Anquan Boldin. Blitzing Rodgers doesn't usually work, and Fangio should have confidence in Leonard Floyd, Pernell McPhee, Willie Young and Akiem Hicks to be enough to effectively rush the passer (23.5 combined sacks). Blitzing the ILBs will just take another player away from watching Rodgers in case he takes off. The upset in Lambeau on Thanksgiving last year came in large part thanks to good coverage, so that may be the best route, leaving the safeties as, well, safety valves in the passing game as opposed to guys expected to man up a Packers pass catcher."
3. What kind of effect do you think the weather will have on this game? Expecting a low-scoring defensive affair?
"The Bears want the weather to be a factor. Their best chance is an ugly, low-scoring weather game. If Rodgers' passes aren't impacted by the cold air, it's going to be a long (and frigid) day for the Bears. They need Mother Nature to slow down the Packers and then to take advantage of their strength in the run game to make this a knock-you-out, drag-you-out game in the teens. The great quarterbacks have had great performances in inclement weather, several against the Bears, but any lake-effect wind will be a big challenge, even for Rodgers."