- Match-up: Green Bay Packers (1-2) vs. Chicago Bears (2-1)
- Location: Soldier Field, Chicago, Illinois
- Date: Sunday, 28 September 2014
- Time: 12:00pm CDT
- TV: FOX
The Bears and Packers will resume one of the most storied rivalries in all of sports this Sunday. The two teams have met each other 188 times (including two postseason games), with the Bears winning 93 games and the Packers winning 89 games. They have also tied six times. The last match-up found the Packers squeaking out a victory over the Bears 33-28 to determine the 2013 NFCN division title.
Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers vs. Bears secondary. It’s no secret that since Rodgers has become the starting quarterback for the Packers he’s had his way with the Bears, winning 11 of 12 games against the Bears which he has started. Without going into all the details of those match-ups the past six years, this year could be an interesting test for both sides as Rodgers has gotten off to an uncharacteristically slow start (62.7 comp. %, five touchdowns, one interception, and three fumbles for a 95.1 rating) and the Bears secondary has been a bright spot on the defense minus some injury issues as they’ve tallied six interceptions through three games. Certainly the Bears secondary will have an easier time of it if the defensive front can pressure Rodgers, but regardless Rodgers is a craftsman in the pocket and covering the receiving tandem of Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb is never an easy task.
Players to Watch
For the Bears, it’s running back Matt Forte. The Bears early struggles running the ball have been widely discussed, with the team only averaging 3.4 yards/carry tallying a total of only 192 yards in three games. Take away quarterback Jay Cutler’s 10 scrambles and that leaves Forte with 136 yards and 3.2 yards/carry – pretty poor numbers by Forte’s standards. Forte even expressed some frustration this week about his slow start.
It is frustrating during the game. It’s not that we’re not calling runs. We are calling run plays. But sometimes, the defenses are set up so that the run play we call is not going to work against that defense. Each week we’re continuing to work on it, and we’ve got to get everybody on the same page up front. Some guys that are stepping in for injured players, we have to get everybody on the right page where we’re blocking the right looks so if they change the personnel or change to a different defensive front, we know how to block that as well.
Luckily for the Bears the Packers are ranked 30th so far this season in rushing defense, while the Bears first three opponents are currently ranked 5th (Bills), 6th (49ers), and 1st (Jets). Sunday’s match-up may just be the breakout game the rushing attack has been looking for.
For the Packers, it’s newly acquired defensive end Julius Peppers. Peppers will be going against his old team for the first time, so it’s not hard to expect Peppers to bring his best effort to show the Bears why they shouldn’t have let him go (although it was more or less a salary cap move). Even though the Packers have been using Peppers differently this season than what he’s used to as a 4-3 defensive end, he’s still off to a decent start with ten tackles, one sack, one forced fumble, and two passes defended. Yes you read that right, coordinator Dom Capers has Peppers dropping into coverage now as part of his new role. With normal Bears terrorizer Clay Matthrews III expected to play but hobbled with a groin injury, the Packers could really use a big game from Peppers.
For the most part the past meetings between the Bears and Packers have been tense and competitive, however the Packers under Rodgers have had a pretty drastic advantage in terms of wins and losses as stated before. With the Packers possibly going 1-3 looming large, I would expect the Packers to play with a bit of an edge and maybe even some slight desperation even on the road. Expect a thrilling ball game with some additional time included just to add to the usual Bears-Packers drama and kicker Robbie Gould being the hero.
Bears 34, Packers 31 (OT)