As we open up the newly revised schedule to an weekly Thursday night game; the Packers and Bears will meet up in an important early season matchup. The two rivals will play for a record 185th time tonight in Lambeau and this Packers-Bears matchup-intense and physical football.
Now let’s dive into tonight’s matchup.
The Bears come fresh off a 41-21 victory over the rebuilding Indianapolis Colts. Jay Cutler looked as good as ever in Chicago with old receiver Brandon Marshall running routes for Cutler again. Not only did the new two-headed monster of Michael Bush and Matt Forte work perfectly, the defense was as always phenomenal for Lovie Smith’s club. Now the team marches into a rival game with the upper hand on the Packers for the first time with Jay Cutler at the helm. Many should wonder how Cutler reacts to being a step ahead of Aaron Rodgers this time? Also, could the Bears, led by all-pro defensive end Julius Peppers, keep what the 49ers did last week: shut down the running game and put Aaron Rodgers on the run or hopefully on the turf. Can the Bears take a commanding 2 game lead this early on the year on the Packers? If Jay Cutler runs the offense the way he did at Soldier Field last week, that fear may become a reality for Green Bay.
Green Bay Packers:
After losing at home to the San Francisco 49ers, the Packers have a quick turnaround for this Thursday night matchup with the Bears. The Packers are dreading this short week due to the fact that he is a precise route runner and pass catcher Greg Jennings is doubtful with a groin injury. Jennings had trouble finding holes in the 49er defense, but he is Rodger’s safest target he has and he will truly have a huge factor on tonight’s outcome. Although, the Packers could thrive with Jennings out; if young players like James Jones and Randall Cobb keep up their play from last week’s loss, then the Packers may be able to manage losing Jennings in this game.
What to Watch:
Tillman is injured. No other way to put it, but like any player who wants to play in a big time matchup, Tillman is going to play through it as the NFL Network is reporting on their Pre-Game show. Tillman will not have to cover Greg Jennings for this game most likely, so he will probably be given Jordy Nelson who is known only for his deep balls, and Tillman could shut that down with an injury.
After a great preseason Cedric Benson opened up against the best defense in the NFL, so typically the veteran did not live up to his preseason success and was held to only 18 yards in Week 1. Can Benson respond even though he is facing another stingy defense tonight? Could he open up holes in the Bears secondary for Rodgers to exploit? These burning questions are sure to be answered from the outset of this high-profile matchup.
I’ve spoken enough about the Bears defense for one article, now their opposition. Last week the Packers faced an average offense at best, however this defense made Alex Smith look like Tom Brady in 2007. The 49ers moved the ball both through the air, and on the ground. With a better offensive unit coming into town, the Packers must step up and pressure Jay Cutler. Clay Mathews must be more successful in his pass rush and cause havoc in the backfield like he is notorious for. This could be the Packers game to lose, and they could easily give this game away on defense.
As nervous as I am to see the Packers begin their collapse in their 2012 campaign, I am still confident then can pull through in this game. I just can not go against the reigning league MVP and the motivation they must have to avoid going to 0-2 on the year and it is a rivalry game nonetheless. I see Rodgers taking over this game and building a new star in Randall Cobb just like he did with Jordy Nelson a season ago. This will be a game going back and forth into the fourth where Rodgers seizes control.