If the 185th installment of the Green Bay Packers and Chicago Bears works out like it usually does, it should be a great game for NFL Network to kick off their 2012 Thursday Night Football extravaganza.
The Bears (1-0) own the all-time edge by six games in the NFL’s oldest and most historic rivalry, but it’s the Packers (0-1) who have won six of the last seven.
Chicago Bears (1-0) Analysis: Jay Cutler and the boys carved up the Indianapolis Colts for 428 yards of total offense (sixth most in the league) and a decisive 41-21 win in week one. Bears fans have to be just salivating at the prospectus of Cutler and Brandon Marshall (reunited and it feels so good) taking on a Packers’ defensive secondary who was torched in week one by the not-yet-recognized Alex Smith and his elder-receiver, Randy Moss. The scary pass offense aside, the Bears have a couple of talented backs in Matt Forte and Michael Bush who are readily able to provide a change of pace to the passing game. This is a much better Chicago offense than 2011’s injury-riddled squad who were at best average (ranked 17th at 22.1 points per game).
While the Bears’ offense is indeed improved, it will be the defense who will be the key behind stealing a win at Lambeau Field. These aren’t your father’s “Monsters of the Midway,” but they are an experienced crew who know the Packers team in and out. Defensive end Julius Peppers is a beast on the end and linebackers Lance Briggs and Brian Urlacher are two of the best in the game. What the Bears defense hasn’t done over the past few years is stop Packers QB Aaron Rodgers. In their last meeting, Rodgers threw a career-high five touchdowns in a 35-21 win on Christmas night.
Green Bay Packers (0-1) Analysis: Being anointed as the league’s best team before a single snap probably didn’t help the Packers who dropped their season-opener to the 49ers on Sunday. With the Bears coming to town, the uphill climb to the top doesn’t get any easier for a team who had it’s 13-game home winning streak snapped. On offense, Rodgers needs to get back to doing what he does best and that’s dropping the ball on a dime when he chucks it down the field. Against both the Giants (playoff loss) and the 49ers, Rodgers has been uncharacteristically off with his throws downfield. To say defenses have figured him out just seems foolish due to how crazy good he was last year.
In week one, the Packers defense actually looked better than the atrocity from last season. Take away the multiple blown coverages (not an easy minus, but nonetheless) and Green Bay actually held the 49ers to 2-of-9 on third down, allowing for the then-impotent offense to take the field. The run defense was particularly bad, but not many could stop the 49ers in that department last season. Who knew linebacker A.J. Hawk would play with more intensity without his hair? His 14 tackles (10 solo) led the team and provides hope the Packers can get some kind of return on their first-round pick from 2006.
Prediction: Green Bay Packers 28 Chicago Bears 24
Six of the last eight games between the Packers and Bears have been decided by seven or less points, thus the prediction of Packers by four. The reason I like the Packers in this game is because with today’s media and overreaction, this is pretty much a must-win game. I also like Rodgers to bounce back with a performance more reflective of his MVP-winning self. The Bears will have offensive success, but it will be turnovers that make the difference in a very close and entertaining game.
TV Coverage: NFL Network, Brad Nessler (play-by-play) and Mike Mayock (color) on the call with Alex Flanagan (sideline)
Betting Lines: Packers favored by 6 points and over/under at set at 51.5
2012 Record straight up: 0-1
2012 Record against the spread: 0-1
2012 Record in over/under: 1-0
Do you think the Packers can bounce back with a win against the Bears? Let me know by commenting below!
Nick Grays is a senior writer at the Sports Bank where he covers the Wisconsin Badgers and Green Bay Packers. He also enjoys to share Fantasy Advice and pretend to be a Golf expert from time-to-time. Follow him on Twitter by clicking here or visit his blog Nick Knows Best. If social media is not your thing, shoot him an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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