The Green Bay Packers have taken control of the NFC North after hot starts from the Chicago Bears and Detroit Lions. The Packers now sit at 5-2, while the Bears are just a game behind with a 4-3 record.
On Monday Night Football, the two bitter rivals will face one another head-to-head for the 187th time, making it the longest-running rivalry in pro football. The Packers will have a chance to extend their division lead. Jay Cutler's injury has made the matchup a little less intriguing, but there is always reason to watch a game between these two teams.
Meet the Packers
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Aaron Rodgers has once again lost some of his top weapons. Greg Jennings left in free agency prior to the season, while Randall Cobb and Jermichael Finley are dealing with injuries. Still, Rodgers remains one of the most consistent and productive quarterbacks in the NFL. In 2013, he's had the luxury of a solid running game to back him up. Rookie running back Eddie Lacy has been a huge part of Green Bay's offense since returning from a concussion.
The Packers' defense has taken a small step forward in 2013, despite being without Clay Matthews for the last few weeks. The front seven has improved against the run, which is what ultimately did the team in a season ago. Meanwhile, the secondary remains one of the most solid units in the NFC.
Meet the Bears
The Chicago Bears started off the season hot under new head coach Marc Trestman, but an injury to Cutler has slowed them down in recent weeks. The Bears, who were once on top of the division, have slipped to 4-3 and will be leaning on Matt Forte early and often, despite having one of the most talented wide receiver tandems in the league in Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery.
Local Takes: Packers
Acme Packing Company thinks the game has lost some of its luster since the Cutler injury:
While this week's matchup was plenty intriguing a few weeks ago, the absence of smokin' Jay Cutler has definitely taken some of the shine off. But like last week, it's still a divisional game and the Bears have a history of making things difficult regardless of what the two teams look like on paper.
Local Takes: Bears
Windy City Gridiron is concerned about the current play of the Bears' defense:
Remember when the Bears were going to have a great (or at least still respectable) defense on paper? Well, it's pretty much turned into paper over the last few games. Small sample size, possibly -- however, even though the Bears have shown an ability to put points on the board, it's still hard to win games the more points you have to score. Overall, the defense just has to play better. Period.
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Without Cutler, the Bears' offense will likely struggle to move the ball on a solid Packers defense. Chicago's defense also isn't as tough as it once was, which will make it tough for the Bears to contain Rodgers and the Packers' passing game. This should be a comfortable Green Bay win.
The pick: 27-10 Packers
The Packers are 10-point favorites for Monday night's game, according OddsShark.com.
The Packers host the Philadelphia Eagles next Sunday at 1 p.m. ET, while the Bears host the Detroit Lions at the same time.