September 20, 2010

Packers Battle Bears for Bragging Rights, Division

Devin Aromashodu Charles Woodson #21 of the Green Bay Packers breaks up a pass intended for Devin Aromashodu #19 of the Chicago Bears at Soldier Field on December 13, 2009 in Chicago, Illinois.
It's going to be a good game. Yes, any Packers or Bears fan understands that every such match up usually produces an entertaining 60 minutes of clock-cleaning, head-smacking and overwhelming emotion.

This Monday night will be no different. As a "resident" of Chicago it's interesting to peruse the Tribune and other local media outlets to gauge the conversation as the Bears have flashed a glimmer of hope to begin the season. But as the lights glimmer Monday night - witty Chicago writers will struggle to find words in describing what transpired in their backyard.

Mike McCarthy hasn't even flipped past the first page in the Packers play book. McCarthy hasn't been calling plays to win, but rather calling plays to not lose. Expect McCarthy and the Packers to shows some guts on Monday night. Five wide receiver sets, slants and go-routes will characterize the passing attack forcing the Bears to run, run and run.

In opening up the play book, Julius Peppers' will be strategically minimized in every way imaginable. Here's how you can expect the Packers to limit Peppers' presence:

  • Double set (possibly even triple set) back field with Kuhn and Finley to block Rodgers' back
  • Lots of quick slant plays and 3-step drops to get the ball out quick
  • Delayed inside hand-offs and screens to Brandon Jackson
  • Shifting/roll outs for Rodgers intentionally away from Peppers
The Bears have strengths, but because they're so few and because McCarthy is a more experienced and effective play-caller, the Packers will neutralize them leaving the Bears exposed. Here's a few examples:
  • Cutler will be pressured on a consistent basis and make painful mistakes that kill scoring opportunities.
  • Rodgers will rhythmically and methodically work the pocket and find open targets leading to BIG plays.
  • Forte will show flashes of life and score 2 TDs; but Lovie will abandon the run game much to early, leaving the game in Cutler's hands. And that won't work out for him.
  • Julius Peppers won't get a chance to interrupt Rodgers' rhythm enough to make a measurable difference.
  • Bears offensive line won't block effectively enough for Forte to get into a running rhythm.
I'm predicting a close game that'll be decided by turnovers and coaching. Chicago loses both battles and the game:

Packers: 30 
Bears: 20

A. Rodgers: 27/41, 322 yards, 3 TDs
B. Jackson: 12 carries, 68 yards; 4 catches 44 yards, TD
G. Jennings: 4 catches, 119 yards, TD
J. Finley: 6 catches, 72 yards, TD

J. Cutler: 22/38, 203 yards, 1 TD, 2 INTs
M. Forte: 14 carries, 59 cards, TD; 5 catches, 40 yards, TD
D. Hester: 4 catches, 38 yards
G. Olsen: 6 catches, 70 yards