Early Bird Breakdown Thanksgiving Special: Chicago Bears @ Green Bay Packers
Hello and welcome to Early Bird Breakdown on this Thanksgiving. Before we dive into the breakdown, we need to have an appetizer of last week’s recap:
Last week the Packers began to play a more complete game and came away with a pretty easy over the Vikings. Eddie Lacy looked fresher and was able to rush for 100 yards for the first time this season. Rodgers was effective, but had some issues with miscues with his receivers. James Jones was able to get his first catch in the last few weeks and then five more after that, leading to a big 109 yard day with one touchdown. The defense shutdown Minnesota by keying in on Peterson and forcing Bridgewater to beat us with his arm which he was not able to do. However, the game was only as lopsided as it was due to the fact the offense was able to capitalize on penalties, the Vikings gave the Packers over 100 free yards in penalties. The final score was 30-13.
Packers’ Offense vs Bears’ Defense:
This week is the rematch from week one, but both personnel groups are trending in different directions over the last month. Chicago’s defense has been playing well and getting better all season under new head coach John Fox. Meanwhile, despite getting 30 points last week the passing attack for Green Bay has had issues getting going. The biggest key for the Packers will be getting Lacy to look like he did last weekend. Eddie Lacy looked more limber and was able to move well and find the correct holes against a very good Vikings defense. Chicago has been very leaky against the run, giving up the 25th most yards, but they have shutdown most passing offenses they play, giving up only 217 yards per game in the air, good for fourth best.
The best way for the Packers to attack the Bears’ strong pass attack will be utilizing James Jones on short, back shoulder throws. While these have been difficult to consistently do this season due to the receivers’ timing collectively being off from Aaron Rodgers, the Bears’ have been playing very well and have not had many big plays against them this season. The receivers will need to be much crisper this week than recently because the Bears probably will not give them so many free opportunities from penalties.
Packers’ Defense vs Bears’ Offense:
Unlike last week with the Vikings, the Bears have an incredibly balanced offense. Ranking 18th in passing, 15th in rushing, and 16th overall. The Bears though are without tightend Martellus Bennett and wide receiver Eddie Royal, and they may not have Matt Forte or Alshon Jeffery playing as well. If Jeffery is out, the Packers can do the exact same gameplan they did last week and win by going all in to stop the run and just seeing if the Bears can throw it. Without Jeffery they have no weapons on the outside of any consequence, and while backup running back Jeremy Langford has been pretty good he is no Matt Forte. The Packers defense has been playing better the last two weeks, and if the Bears are without all of their skill players they should not have much trouble. If Jeffery and Forte are available, the Bears will be able to keep the game within reach.
It is going to be a cold and rainy night in Lambeau, with a kickoff of 37 degrees and rain throughout.
If the Bears are without Forte and Jeffery, this one probably will be ugly for the Bears. They will have difficulty moving the ball on offense with virtually no skill positions left healthy. While their defense will keep them in the game most likely, the Packers will inevitably score and keep them locked out with Eddie Lacy. If Forte and Jeffery are available, this game will be more interesting than people may think, especially if the Packers’ continue to have their receivers off on their timing with Rodgers. With Forte and Jeffery, this game should be within ten points, but with both questionable I’m not sure if they will get either let alone both so I’m predicting they will be without at least one of them. Final score 27-13 Green Bay over Chicago.As always, go Pack go! Stu Weis -Journalism graduate 2012, Carroll University