COMMENTARY | The Green Bay Packers (2-0) head to Soldier Field Sunday to face NFC North rival the Chicago Bears (1-1) in the first intra-division game of the season for either team. It will also be their first meeting at Soldier Field since last season’s NFC championship game, which sent the Packers to Super Bowl XLV after beating the Bears 21-14.
The Bears are coming off a 30-13 loss to the New Orleans Saints in which Jay Cutler threw for 244 yards and one touchdown, according to NFL.com. Although Culter did not throw any interceptions, he was sacked six times by the Saints. Culter was sacked four times the previous week in a win over the Atlanta Falcons.
The Bears’ offensive line problems may continue this week against the Packers now that Bears right tackle and top draft pick Gabe Carimi will miss the game due to a knee injury, according to the Chicago Tribune. In addition, Bears starting right guard Lance Louis could also miss the game with an ankle sprain that caused him to sit out the Saints game.
The Packers will have their own injury problems heading to Chicago after head coach Mike McCarthy announced that safety Nick Collins will miss the rest of the season with a neck injury he sustained against the Carolina Panthers, according to PackersNews.com. The loss of Collins – a three-time Pro Bowl and All-Pro selection – is a blow to the Packers’ secondary.
The Green Bay Packers can secure a victory against the Chicago Bears if they address four key issues during the game.
1. Dominate on offense
The Packers had a sluggish start against the Carolina Panthers, falling behind early and not finding their rhythm until the second half. The defense kept the Packers in the game, causing four turnovers and preventing the Panthers from scoring touchdowns on several occasions from the red zone.
The Packers were successful in the preseason and against the Saints when they utilized the no-huddle offense to control the tempo of the game. Look for the Packers to use the no-huddle to jump to an early lead and keep the Bears defense on their heels.
One of the strengths of the offense is there are no injuries. This time last season Ryan Grant had a season-ending injury and James Starks was on the physically unable to perform list. The Packers need to take advantage of their offensive talent by continuing to balance the passing game with the running game.
The offense has too much talent to put the burden on the defense to stay in the game every week.
2. Bring the pass rush
The Packers defense can capitalize on the injuries sustained to the Bears’ offensive line. If Carimi and Louis are out on Sunday, second unit players will play that whole right side of the line. Clay Matthews lines up opposite that side of the line and will be poised to have a big day.
With starting defensive end Mike Neal out several weeks after knee surgery, Jarius Wynn will need to bring pressure in order to help collapse the pocket. If the Packers are unable to get to Cutler on a blitz, it could prove to be a long day for the Green Bay secondary.
A strong pass rush will force Cutler to throw a checkdown pass to running back Matt Forte or underneath to his new target wide receiver Dane Sanzenbacher , an undrafted rookie out of Ohio State who was the Buckeyes’ leading receiver last year and voted MVP and Most Inspirational Player by his college teammates.
3. Special Teams play
The Packers need to do two things: punt away from Devin Hester and create a lane for Randall Cobb.
The Bears’ return specialist Hester is talented and dangerous when given the opportunity to return a kickoff or punt. The Packers will undoubtedly try to deny him the chance to return the ball.
The Packers’ Randall Cobb proved he can be just as dangerous when he returned a kickoff 108 yards in the season opener against the Saints.
The Packers beat the Panthers last week thanks to the four turnovers created by the Packers defense. The turnovers led to nine points on three field goals for the Packers. The Packers lost one fumble that led to a Panthers field goal.
The difference in points off turnovers was six in favor of the Packers.
The Packers will walk away with a win if they can create a favorable turnover ratio.
Green Bay Packers: Week 1 Vs Saints
Green Bay Packers: Week 2 Vs Panthers