Early Bird Breakdown Week 10: Chicago Bears @ Green Bay Packers
Hello all! Welcome to another Early Bird Breakdown! Let’s begin with the recap:
Both the Chicago Bears and Green Bay Packers had a bye last week. Both teams also had similar fortunes on the road two weeks ago during their last game before the bye, although with different circumstances. The Packers two weeks ago were with New Orleans until Aaron Rodgers came up limping and then proceeded to be blown out in primetime. The Bears were never close with the Patriots last week, losing by 28 points and most the Bears’ scoring was after Brady was resting because the game was so far out of reach. In short, both teams needed the bye to refocus after crushing losses on the road, but who set themselves up for a better rebound? Let’s look at the breakdown.
Packers’ Offense vs. Bears’ Defense:
Nothing has changed for the Bears’ defense since they last played the Packers. The Bears have been struggling to cover in general, but nickel corner Demontre Hurst in particular has struggled mightily this season and because of that, expect whoever is currently lined up in the slot to have a great shot at a big play. Most likely Randall Cobb and Davante Adams will benefit on this matchup the most, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see Jordy Nelson on a few plays moved into the slot. The Bears last time were shredded and unable to generate any semblance of a pass rush. While they were without Jared Allen in the first game, he is not close to the Jared Allen of years ago who single-handedly terrorized Rodgers and I don’t expect his presence to have a meaningful impact on the game.
The mystery factor as always this season will be Eddie Lacy. Lacy overall has experienced a bum rep this season. While he is not blameless because there are multiple times he has made the wrong read on which hole to take, the offensive line outside of left guard Josh Sitton has been inconsistent. Despite this, he actually is averaging the exact same 4.1 yards per carry he had last year in his spectacular rookie campaign. The reason his yardage totals have been so poor is because McCarthy is only giving him 13 touches per game, while last year he had nearly 19. As the season goes on and the months get colder, expect Lacy’s touches to increase which will elevate his yardage totals to those the Packers fans expected from the outset. As for this game, the Bears this season are 13th against the run mostly because teams can throw on them all day they don’t try to run it. Lacy will see most of his touches in the end when the Packers are trying to chew clock and while he fully can have a good game today, I expect McCarthy will continue his trend of limiting Lacy’s touches in the run game. On the plus side for Lacy, he is becoming quite a threat in the passing game and could do a lot of damage there this week as he did against the Saints two weeks ago when he had 123 yards receiving.
Packers’ Defense vs. Bears’ Offense:
Green Bay’s defense took a huge step backwards two weeks ago against the Saints after showing improvement week-to-week leading into that game. Drew Brees missed only five passes all game and did not turn it over, something the Packers have lived on this season. Fortunately, Jay Cutler is not Drew Brees and the Packers return home where the crowd can help the defense out by making it rougher on the offense. Last time they played, Cutler threw for only 256 yards and a pair of interceptions. In his previous five games in fact he has a combined six turnovers. I expect him to have at least one interception on the road in Green Bay. Having said that, the combination of weapons available at his disposal coupled with the game film that New Orleans used to exploit holes in the secondary could open up things for the offense to put up points. Lets not forget, the Bears have Alshon Jeffrey, Brandon Marshall, and Martellus Bennett to combine with the dual threat Matt Forte, who had 161 total yards in the last game they played.
Matt Forte is most likely going to have a monster game again against Green Bay. Mark Ingram ran for 172 yards last week, which was enough to drop Green Bay back firmly into last place on rushing defense. Unless the Packers uncharacteristically do not miss tackles or make them up field (pro-football focus has the Packers as one of the worst teams at making tackles) and instead makes them at or near the line of scrimmage, expect Forte to easily cruise to 100 yards probably before the fourth quarter or not long into it.
The Weather Factor:
As of writing this, the expected kickoff will be cold 35o and with early morning showers the turf may be a little damp still by game time but not enough to make a difference.
Both teams are looking to make a statement in primetime after both were embarrassed the last time they took the field. While both teams easily can and most likely will put up points, as the game goes on the sepearation from Aaron Rodgers and Jay Cutler’s talents will shine through. Cutler is 1-9 against Green Bay due to the fact he has thrown 10 interceptions against them in that time frame. Ultimately, Forte will keep Chicago around but similar to last time Green Bay has too much firepower for the Bears defense and Cutler will make at least one mistake leading to Green Bay points. The final score will be 45-24 Green Bay over Chicago.
Eddie Lacy- I feel that McCarthy may finally start giving Lacy more looks, but mostly I think Rodgers will give him a pass that will give him a big gain against the Bears for a few extra points to push his total up. Throw in a goal line touchdown, and Lacy will be up near the high teens.
Davante Adams – Nelson and Cobb thrashed Chicago last time, and will be good again here. But the last time they played was before Adams began getting Rodgers’ respect. Expect more looks for him here and with the best natural matchup on the field could be a big surprise here.
Jay Cutler – While the Packers were thrashed last week by Brees, Cutler has a propensity for turning it over in Green Bay.
As always, go Pack go! Stu Weis -Journalism graduate 2012, Carroll University