If you would have told me two months ago that the Chicago Bears would be 2-0, and battling for first place in the NFC North in week three, I would have told you that you are crazy.
On Monday, the Bears will play their biggest game since Super Bowl XLI. The Packers bring their talented offense, wreck less defense and 2-0 record into Chicago on Monday for a showdown for first place in the NFC North.
It will be the 180th meeting between the two teams that has dated back to 1921. The Bears lead the all-time series 91-82-6, but were swept in two games by the Packers last season.
While many people predicted that Green Bay would be contending for the NFC North, hardly anyone gave the Bears a chance. Well, here they are folks. At 2-0 and with a win on Monday, the Bears can secure themselves in first place in the NFC North for the first time since 2007.
Mondays game will be a test of what team the Bears really are. No question this will be their toughest test to date this season.
The Packers will rely on quarterback Aaron Rodgers to get their offense going. Rodgers is 38-60 with 443 yards, four touchdowns and two interceptions. Rodgers ranks eleventh in the NFL for passer rating.
The Bears have quite the quarterback themselves though, as they will be led by the NFL’s passer rating leader, Jay Cutler who has a 121.02 rating after two games.
With six touchdowns and just one interception, Cutler looks to be the quarterback Chicago thought he would be when they acquired him in 2008. It’s no secret that Mike Martz has a offense that is working with Cutler.
While both offenses seem to be rolling, both teams defenses are playing extremely well. The Packers defense, led by Clay Matthews, is ranked third overall in the NFL. Matthews has an amazing six sacks in two games to lead the NFL.
The Bears bring in the 12th ranked defense, but are ranked number one in rushing defense.
After being criticized in week one, the Chicago offensive line adjusted early and it worked against Dallas. They will have their hands full against a tough Green Bay defense.
So the key to the game? Which team can limit the mistakes and establish the run game.
Both teams are struggling in the running game. The Packers lost Ryan Grant for the season, and turn to second string back Brandon Jackson. Jackson had a sub par game against Buffalo in week two.
The Bears on the other hand got good production from Matt Forte, but in the passing game rather than the run game. The Bears rushed for 101 yards as a team in week one, but other than that it’s been little to nothing.
While the passing games heat up, the running game will be important. I believe whatever team establishes the run, will set up play action and can take an advantage in the game.
Cutler and Rodgers are set to duke it out, and what a night we could be in for. Arguably two of the best quarterbacks in the NFL, in the NFL’s best rivalry on Monday Night Football. What else could we ask for?
Whatever quarterback limits the mistakes, and recognizes the blitz packages will lead their team to a successful win.
On the defensive side of the ball the Bears will need to be sharp in coverage. The secondary and linebackers will have their hands full with the Green bay receivers, and tight end Jermichael Finley. Finley will pose a big match-up problem for the Bears. Do you stick Urlacher on him and leave the middle free? Or assign a defensive back to him? Chicago will need to be careful with that match up.
Getting pressure on Rodgers is very important for the Bears. Rodgers will sit back there and pick you apart if he has time. He’s also very mobile and can make plays happen on his feet. The key is to get him on the ground. This is where the defensive line must step up. Julius Peppers and Tommie Harris need to have big games. In fact the whole defensive line needs to. They have only combined for 15 tackles on the season. That must change, and it starts with Green Bay.
Game Notes: The last time these teams met on Monday Night Football was week 16 in 2008. The Bears won on Robbie Gould field goal in overtime; Major Wright and Chris Williams will not play Monday not, as announced Saturday; The Bears will wear their 1940 throwback jerseys.
Three Keys to the Game
-Bears need to establish the run game early on. Just think of how much more dangerous this Bears offense could be with a solid run game? By establishing the run game early, it will lead to play action opening up, and the Packers can stack the Box. Draws and screens will be key to a successful Bears offense.
-Get Rodgers on the ground. Just forcing him out of the pocket will not do the job. The defensive line needs to sack Rodgers and force the Green Bay offense out of rhythm.
-Limit your turnovers. The Bears did a wonderful job on limiting their turnovers against the Cowboys. After making key mistakes in week one, Chicago had zero turnovers in week two. If you turn the ball over against Green Bay, they will make you pay early and often.
Bears 26, Packers 23 (OT)