Let the battle for the NFC North between the Packers and Bears begin

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This article could start out about how the Green Bay Packers and Chicago Bears take part in the NFL’s oldest rivalry, blah blah blah, but let’s not get too cliche.

For the most part, today’s players could care less about the league’s historic rivalries. As long as a pay-check is being deposited into their bank accounts, playing resumes as usual.

With that said, the Chicago Bears wide receiver Brandon Marshall steered away from the norm by trash-talking the Packers and essentially making it known that this game is an important one.

Chicago Bears (8-5) Analysis: Whether what Marshall was saying was right or wrong, he’s having a fantastic year in Chicago with a league-leading 101 catches for 1,342 yards and nine touchdowns. The only problem is that his quarterback Jay Cutler is beyond banged up with neck and knee issues. In the midst of losing four of their last five, the offense has staggered (only 72 points in last five games) and needs to find a way to get running back Matt Forte in to the gameplan. If that’s not bleak enough, the Bears lost their most consistent offensive option in kicker Robbie Gould to a season-ending calf injury.

The Bears miraclous run of defensive turnovers by the bunches has come to an end and subsequently caused this team to struggle to score points. Moreover, the Bears solid rush defense has completely waffled while allowing 141.0 yards per game over their last seven. Injuries have also hit this bunch hard as they will be without linebacker Brian Urlacher and cornerback Tim Jennings.

Green Bay Packers (9-4) Analysis: The green and gold will receive a jolt with the likely return of all-pro linebacker Clay Matthews. Take away the Giants disaster and the Packers’ defense has probably overachieved with hard-fought wins over the Lions (x2) and Vikings without Matthews. The young secondary has played extremely well with veteran Tramon Williams playing out of his mind and Sam Shields showed why he was missed in the last game.

Aaron Rodgers isn’t producing the MVP numbers he put up last year, but he is managing a team who’s still searching for their really identity. In the 27-20 win over the Lions, the Packers had a running resurgence with backs Alex Green, Ryan Grant and DuJuan Harris combining for 113 yards via the ground. With as bad as the offensive line has been pass-blocking (three sacks and five QB hits last week), look for the Packers to continue to find success on the ground.

Prediction: Green Bay 24 Chicago 17

In this prediction, I have to go with recent and past history. The Packers have won two straight at Soldier Field and apparently can’t lose within the division. Plus, the Packers have been winners in seven of their last eight while the Bears have lost four of five this season. Psychologically the Bears need this game much more, but I’m not sure they’re healthy enough to win. Both teams will utilize the running game and attempt to win over the top. Rodgers will lead the Packers on a late scoring drive to capture the team’s second straight divisonal championship.

TV Coverage: FOX 12:00 PM CT including Joe Buck (play-by-play) and Troy Aikman (color) with Pam Oliver on the sidelines.

Betting Lines: Packers favored by 3 with over/under set at 43 points.

2012 Record straight up: 9-4

2012 Record against the spread: 4-9

2012 Record in over/under: 7-6

What are you most looking forward in the Packers and Bears game? 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 grays@uwalumni.com.

Pictures:

Tramon Williams (roemerphotoblog.com)

Matt Forte (zimbio.com)

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