One of the greatest rivalries in sports will be on display Thursday night as we get to experience the Chicago Bears @ Green Bay Packers leading off week 2 of games.
Many of you may already know my thoughts on the Bears, I have them winning the Super Bowl after all, but the Packers are the team I picked to have the same record as the Bears just losing out on the division.
So when the Packers were controlled in week 1, that really threw off everything and now I was thinking to I need to re-evaluate everything I have written before.
What are the keys to this match up: Well let’s take a look at three things each team needs to do in order to win this game in my Chicago Bears @ Green Bay Packers week 2 preview.
Packers keys to victory-
1. Improve in the pass defense: While the Packers only gave up 191 yards through the air in week 1, it wasn’t because of them doing a great job covering the 49ers receiving core.
No, it had more to do with the fact the 49ers simply didn’t take deep chances, they controlled the tempo of the game with a dominant run game, but they also completed over 76% of their passes, and of the 20 passes they completed 13 of them were for a first down.
The Packers have to be able to get off the field on third downs, and to do that they will have to slow down the Bears passing attack, especially on short throws in third down situations.
It isn’t about lack of pass rush either, as Clay Matthews was his dominant self, it is more about putting Nick Perry in a bad situation and dropping him into coverage too much.
The Packers have to come up and play better against the pass this week, or they have no hope in this game against the Bears.
2. Stop the run: Honestly giving up almost 6 yards per rush is bad, but what was worse is the fact that the Packers had no plays in the game where they were able to stop the 49ers behind the line of scrimmage.
If nose tackle BJ Raji can’t do anything, it may be time to cut his snaps, as he was on the field for nearly 80% of the game, and his wide body is not useful in the passing game one bit.
More importantly, they need Nick Perry to improve setting the edge, which will allow for the MLBs to have less traffic and muck to fight through as well as making plays closer to the line of scrimmage instead of 2-3 yards down field.
It will be a concern all year, but even if the Packers can get those yards per carry down to 5, that will be a good start this week for them.
3. Open up the offense: I understand that the 49ers have maybe the best defense in the league, and their pass rush is ferocious, but you have to have faith in your team, and cutting out a significant amount of the playbook in favor of short, quick throws is not what the Packers offense is about.
They face a similarly tough task this week with the outstanding pass rush of the Bears. For the Packers offense to get to full force, they need get back to their attacking of all levels of the field and spreading the ball around.
Bears keys to victory-
1. Give Forte the rock: We already know that Matt Forte is unhappy with his role in the Bears offense, and understandably so, as he only received 4 more carries than his back up Michael Bush on the day and his goal line touches were poached away as well.
Now this isn’t fantasy so I am not interested in the goal line stuff, but I would love to see Matt get around 22 carries in this game, and to really put the pressure on that porous defensive front seven of the Packers.
2. Control Clay: Easier said than done I am aware, but Clay Matthews was the only threat to the 49ers offense on Sunday and he may be the one who can make any plays in the game tonight.
The key to this game isn’t just the pass blocking of J’Marcus Webb, but how effective Evan Rodriguez can be in helping Webb out.
While Webb was very good against the Colts on Sunday, the Colts don’t have a pass rusher that is currently in the same class as Matthews.
If Webb can hold up, with the help of Rodriguez, Forte, Bush, then Cutler should have another good week, and continue on his trek towards that MVP trophy I handed him in my NFL Preview.
3. Make Rodgers uncomfortable: The 49ers did it with great effectiveness on Sunday, and if the Bears want to pull a similar upset tonight, they will need to be able to get the same type of pressure.
While Aldon Smith may be an elite pass rusher, he isn’t the overall player that Julius Peppers is, and Peppers should be able to get his pass rush game on again, after having a dominating performance in week 1.
Not only do they have to worry about Peppers, but Shea McClellin looks like the real deal, and the Bears do a fantastic job drawing up pressure through blitzes.
My Thoughts on the Packers (-6) vs Bears:
This game was a slam dunk Packers victory to me as I was going through their season schedule, even with me picking the Bears to win the division.
Well after week 1, my thoughts have slightly changed.
I am concerned with the Packers offensive and defensive line, and don’t know if they can withstand the pressure of the Bears defensive front seven, or the pounding run game that the Bears possess.
With that said, I still will reluctantly pick the Packers to win this game as I think the Packers offense gets going enough to overcome their short comings, but the Bears will cover this game.
Note: If Greg Jennings is not playing, I am changing this to the Bears straight up, but for now I am believing he will play and they are just being coy with his actual status.
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