(Green Bay): TE Jermichael Finley - The Bears play an aggressive cover 2 defensive scheme and in 3 games last year against the Packers they pretty much kept the Packers WRs in check. Finley had 9 catches for 115 yards against the Bears in Chicago in 2010. The Packers didn't have someone capable of attacking the seams in the middle of the field and keeping the safeties from cheating towards the outsides to help on the wideouts. Finley missed 2 of the 3 games because of a season ending injury. He has the athletic ability, size, speed, and hands to create problems for the Bears zone blitz schemes and not having him last year really hindered their offense against this type of defense. Look for the Packers to utilize Finley early and often to attack the soft spots in the zone defense. He could have a huge day if the offensive line gives QB Aaron Rodgers time to set up in the pocket to find this phenom.
(Chicago): DE Julius Peppers - He can be at times a one man wrecking crew. He is virtually impossible to block with one man. He has the total package of size, speed, strength, agility, balance, quickness, and chases down plays from sideline to sideline. LT Chad Clifton (Packers) at age 35 has the responsibility of blocking Peppers and keeping him off of QB Aaron Rodgers back, but he has been having some knee issues and that doesn't bode well for QB Rodgers and the Packers offense when you have Peppers coming at you. Peppers can dominate this game without getting a sack just by his presence alone and hurrying Rodgers into throwing the ball before he wants to.
Chicago Bears Offense vs. Green Bay Defense: QB Jay Cutler has been pressured in the two games so far this season. The offensive line hasn't given him time to set up in the pocket and allowing time for the receivers to get open on deeper routes. RB Matt Forte is his leading receiver because Cutler has to dump the ball off because of the constant pressure. Cutler has shown the ability in the past to make every throw when given time. He needs a true number one WR who he can depend on to get open and make plays for the offense. Wide receivers Johhny Knox, Earl Bennet, and Devin Hester all bring something different to the table but neither display that consistent number one receiver skillset. Roy Williams was acquired from the Dallas Cowboys to give them that big receiver to attack defenses, but so far he has been injured and hasn't produce anything significant to the offense. The Packers defense has been terrible against the pass and lost free safety Nick Collins to a season ending neck injury. If they can tighten that up and they should with pro bowler CB Charles Woodson and Tramon Williams patrolling the secondary. Safeties Charlie Peprah and Morgan Burnett have the talents to make up for the loss of Collins. OLB Clay Matthews should have a big day against this Bears suspect offensive line and NT B.J. Raji should dominate in the trenches against the run and by putting pressure on Jay Cutler up the middle.
Chicago Bears Defense vs. Green Bay Offense: DE Julius Peppers and MLB Brian Urlacher have the abilities to chase plays down from sideline to sideline and make big plays for their defense.The Bears need Peppers to dominate and to force QB Aaron Rodgers into hurried throws hopefully turning them into interceptions by the secondary. The Bears play a base Cover 2 scheme and they like to have their cornerbacks jam or reroute receivers to throw off the route timings between them and the QB. In three games against the Packers in 2010 they accomplished that and slowed down the quick strike and pass happy Packers offense. All three games were decided by seven points or less. The one area of weakness against the Bears cover 2 is the area behind the linebackers and the space between the corners and safeties. TE Jermichael Finley of the Packers had a big game against the Bears in Chicago last year with 9 catches for 115 yards, but missed the other two games because he suffered a season ending knee injury. Green Bay will probably try and attack those zone areas with Finley, I look for him to have a huge day if the Bears continue to do what they did defensively to slow the Packers last year. Green Bay has the best collection of wide receivers in the NFL with Greg Jennings, Jordy Nelson, James Jones, and the old wily veteran Donald Driver. The Bear defense is in a pick your poison position. Do you try to slow down the wideouts or do you focus your attention to TE Jermichael Finley? Once they get that figured out there is still the task of slowing down the running game with RB James Starks who had a big game last year against the Bears in the NFC Championship game. Which ever unit wins this battle will more than likely be on the good side of the win and lost column.
Green Bay (NFL Rank & YPG) Chicago (NL Rank & YPG)
Rush Off. 11th - 113.5ypg 26th -- 74.0ypg
Rush Def. 6th - 76.0ypg 20th - 114.0ypg
Pass Off. 8th - 295.5ypg 15th - 237.5ypg
Pass Def. 32nd - 400.0ypg 22nd - 270.0ypg
Total Offense: 9th 24th
Total Defense: 29th 22nd
Points per game: 36.0ppg 21.5ppg
OLB Clay Matthews (versus) LT J'Marcus Webb and RT Frank Omiyale: Matthews is relentless at putting pressure on the QB. He forces defenses to locate him on every play and adjust the protection to whatever side he lines up on. The Bears last year and now early on this year have been having breakdowns on their offensive line and QB Jay Cutler has been the beneficiary of sacks, knockdowns, pressures, and constant hits. The Bears two starting tackles for this game will need to have a solid game and locate Matthews quickly then lock on to him and give QB Jay Cutler time to find his receivers. Matthews could be a big thorn in the side of the Bears offense all day if they can't keep him contained.
RB Matt Forte (versus) Green Bay's Linebackers: The Packers defense will have their hands full with Forte. He is the Bears leading rusher and receiver in just two games so far this season. He has the ability to run between the tackles, get to the outside and turn the corner with some speed and acceleration, and the hands to catch the ball out of the backfield. Usually when the Bears offensive line breaks down the first person QB Jay Cutler looks for is Matt Forte on checkdowns and dump offs and he has been turning plays that are suppose to be for little gains into big gains. The Packers linebacking group of A.J. Hawk, Desmond Bishop, Clay Matthews, and Eric Walden will need to locate Forte quickly on passing plays and prevent him from having big gains by not missing on the first contact tackles. Since Green Bay's defense is aggressive at times they need to be aware of screen plays to Forte who has the ability to take those for touchdowns.
Final Word: QB Jay Cutler will have a lot of added pressure and eyes on him for this game. In last year's NFC Championship Game Cutler's toughness and heart for the game was questioned when he was taken out of a close game with what many were saying was a phantom injury. Only Cutler knows if he was too hurt to finish the game, but personally he ought to get a medal of honor for playing behind this shabby offensive line. The Bears front office hasn't done him any favors as well by not finding him a true threat at the number one WR position. Then after the NFL lockout was over they traded away his most reliable target in TE Greg Olsen. He needs to have a good performance this week to silence some of the critics, but that will be difficult to achieve with this porous offensive line. QB Aaron Rodgers and the rest of his Packers teammates still have one thing that they want to change from last year and that is to win the NFC north division that the Bears won this would be a big start in achieving that by winning in Chicago.