It's that time of the year again, the first meeting between the Bears and Packers. The 2-0 Green Bay Packers will play guest to the 1-1 Chicago Bears at Soldier Field (Sunday, 3:15 CT). Despite the Packers almost dropping one to Carolina and Chicago being blown out by New Orleans, this is expected to be the game of the week. Rivalry games between these two teams are always close and come down the very end. No matter how bad each team has been doing that season, it's highly entertaining. Last season the Bears were expected to be blown out on Monday Night Football by the undefeated Packers yet, the Bears came away with a 20-17 victory.
This won't be your usual Bears/Packers game as both teams are hindered by injuries. After a lucky stretch of losing virtually no starters last season, the Bears have several key players on the injury list. Sunday, the Bears will be without 2 starters on the offensive line in Gabe Carimi (Knee) and Lance Louis (Ankle). The defense will be very different in the secondary as the Bears are likely to be without Chris Harris (Hamstring, game-time decision) and Major Wright (Head). Drew Brees exploited the lack of experience in the secondary last week picking apart Wright/Steltz/Meriweather. The question is, can Aaron Rodgers do the same thing? Or will the Rush Men find their way into the Green Bay backfield for a couple sacks to slow Rodgers down?
Green Bay is struggling with a couple injuries themselves. Nick Collins was lost for the season last week as he was carted off the field with a neck injury. Charles Woodson and Clay Mathews have been limited in practice but are expected to play. With Green Bay's top defensive playmakers not playing at full strength, the Bears could pull a comeback win after a disappointing game last week.
Here are my 5 keys to victory for the Chicago Bears
Pressure. If the Bears defense doesn't create pressure on Aaron Rodgers, he will pick our secondary apart. Chris Harris is the anchor of the secondary and without him, two unexperienced safeties playing could lead to a lot of big plays. Despite making the past two Pro Bowls Brandon Meriweather was just signed by the Bears 3 weeks ago and hasn't completely learned the system yet. Also he isn't known for great coverage, he's more of a hard hitter. Hopefully we'll see a big hit from him this Sunday.
Don't let the WR behind you. Major Wright made a major mistake by allowing Devery Henderson to blow by him for a 79 yard TD last week against the Saints. With Craig Steltz and Brandon Meriweather starting, they cannot allow Greg Jennings, Jordy Nelson, etc. to get behind them for the big play. If we can keep everything in front of us and rely on fundamental tackling, we can slow down the potent Green Bay Offense.
Keep Aaron Rodgers on the sideline. The Chicago Bears will have to get first downs and basically do everything they can to stay on the field. This has two benefits, 1.) Rodgers can't throw Touchdowns if he isn't on the field and, 2.) Defense will grow tired much sooner in the game. I know it's easier said than done but Matt Forte will need to step up big time for a depleted Chicago Bears offense. Without Carimi, Louis, Williams, Bennett, and Barber...Forte is pretty much all we have at this point.
Special Teams must come up big. Whether it's a huge return by Hester/Knox, or a playing a battle of field position, our special teams has to factor into this game somehow. We're facing a potent offense, with a depleted offense/defense, so we'll need any type of pick-me-up we can get. I will go on the record and say if Devin Hester has a return touchdown, I believe we will win this game.
Limit Turnovers. Against an aggressive Green Bay defense, we cannot allow them to thrive off turnovers. The offense feeds off the defense and after a big turnover, the last guy we want back on the field is Aaron Rodgers with momentum in his favor. Cutler only has 1 interception through 2 games and it was a batted ball at the defensive line in Week 1. If Cutler plays safe with the ball, you can expect a Chicago Bears win.
PREDICTION: My prediction is that the Bears will win by a FG or a TD. It's classic Chicago Bears football to pull one out of your ass when the fans least expect it. Play abysmal football, only to show up next week and play like you're in the Super Bowl. I would give nothing more to see Julius Peppers pounce on Aaron Rodgers' head on Sunday. If we see that, look for the outcome to shift in the Bears favor.