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The NFL’s oldest rivalry will meet for the 185th time Thursday night at Lambeau Field. The Packers will try to bounce back from a Week One, 30-22 defeat by the San Francisco 49ers, and the Bears look to make an early divisional statement and improve to 2-0 on the season.
Green Bay had an extremely difficult time stopping the 49ers’ offense this past Sunday. Green Bay gave up a total of 377 yards: 191 via pass, and 186 on the ground. In addition, the Packers struggled running the ball, compiling a total of 45 rushing yards. Packers’ newly acquired running back, Cedric Benson, only had nine carries for 18 yards- not exactly what the Packers wanted to see from their free agent signing. Unfortunately, the Packers also may be without wide receiver, Greg Jennings, who is ailing with a groin injury.
As for the Bears, their offense looked explosive. The Bears had a total of 428 yards, sixth best in the NFL, against the Indianapolis Colts. Jay Cutler and wide receiver Brandon Marshall did not miss a beat. In a Tuesday conference, when asked about the Packers’ defensive backs pressing and being physical with receivers Cutler said, “Good luck.” A very bold yet confident statement to make just a week into play.
Chicago’s running back duo could possibly be the best in the NFL. Matt Forte and Michael Bush were very effective Week One combining for 122 yards and three touchdowns. Defensively, the Bears were able to create turnovers, forcing three interceptions and two fumbles. Bears’ linebacker Brian Urlacher is expected to play even though he is still suffering knee problems. Also cornerback, Charles Tillman is expected to play. Tillman left Week One with an apparent shin injury.
Keys to Victory for the Packers:
Put pressure on Jay Cutler:
The Packers are going to have to be effective on the blitz and force Jay Cutler to make mistakes. They cannot allow him to settle in the pocket and find open receivers. Several times, Cutler threw questionable passes into double coverage in Week One against the Colts; Green Bay must capitalize on these mistakes, force turnovers and let their offense control the game.
Establish Some Type of Run Game:
The Packers had absolutely no run game Week One, which needs to change as the season progresses. By establishing a run game the Packers’ offense becomes more dangerous, and less predictable. This also gives Green Bay the ability to control the clock, and keep Cutler and his explosive offense off the field.
Keys to Victory for the Bears
Attack Green Bay’s weak Secondary:
The Bears have a talented offense and Cutler can definitely distribute and pass the ball. Cutler and the Bears should want to keep the ball in the air and see if the Packers are capable of stopping their receiving core revolved around Brandon Marshall.
Keep Aaron Rodgers off the Field:
Rodgers was not named MVP last year for nothing. He is extremely talented and executes very efficiently. The Bears must try and control the clock with Forte and Bush. The longer their offense is on the field the longer Rodgers is on the sideline. The Bears want to keep him off the field and put more pressure on the Packers’ defense to come up to make a big play.
The Packers will look to expand their current winning streak over the Bears to five games, but it definitely will not come easy. As coach Mike McCarthy said while addressing the press: “It’s a tough game every time we get together on the field, so we are expecting that, but yes we are focusing on winning the game.”