It’s Monday and while you may still be upset that you had to go back to work or school today, remember that Monday Night Football takes place tonight. While some of the recent Monday Night Football match-ups haven’t been the best, I think this will be a good one, since the Chicago Bears will be going up against their rival, the Green Bay Packers.
Going into this game, both teams are fighting for a lot. When it comes to the Packers, they are trying to stay on top of the NFC North and with the Lions having a bye-week, they definitely want to get this win and extend their NFC North lead. With the Bears, it’s a little different, they are looking first to win without their quarterback Jay Cutler who is expected to be out a couple of weeks and they are looking to stay in the NFC North race and a win tonight would tie them with the Lions for second place.
While this game may be equally important for both teams, there is no doubt that both teams are capable of coming out with a victory but only if they follow certain steps.
Bears Steps to Victory
Offensively, it all starts with making quarterback Josh McCown comfortable and the way to do that is to give him consistent protection. When you talk about the Bears they don’t do the best job of protecting their quarterback and although the Packers will be without Clay Matthews and Nick Perry, you can believe the Packers will pressure McCown. When it comes to McCown he is a veteran and while he is capable of leading his team to victory, he will still need consistent protection. McCown would be smart to take what the Packer defense gives him in this one and play to his strengths, no need to force anything. Most importantly, he must not turn the ball over. The Packers pass defense has been up and down this season allowing 274 passing yards a game but McCown still needs to be on his game as well as the receiving core.
Another huge factor for this Bear offense will be to get the run game going which won’t be easy seeing that the Packers are ranked 4th in the NFL in opponent rushing yards. Now don’t get cocky thinking that the Packers can’t handle Matt Forte because they handled Reggie Bush, Adrian Peterson and Ray Rice just fine. The main thing the running game must do is offer balance, anything after that is a bonus. I also think Bears would be smart to throw different plays out there for Forte, he is very versatile, so they should look to use some screen plays and dump offs in this game.
Defensively, the Bears must get their front seven going and get some pressure on quarterback Aaron Rodgers. While Rodgers may not have his full loaded receiving core, he still can burn the Bears secondary if they give him time. Plus the Packers have a rookie at left tackle in David Bakhtiari, so they should look to expose him in this game. Bears front seven will also have to be prepared to slow down the run game, seeing that they average 141 rushing yards a game which is the third best in the NFL. Defensive lineman Julius Peppers and linebacker Jon Bostic and the rest of the front seven must stay discipline and do their best to force the Packers to become an one-dimensional team.
They must also be prepared to force turnovers at some point in this game. They have forced 18 turnovers so far this season and going into this game, they may need to force two turnovers to help slow down this high-powered offense. Overall, I think the defense’s best bet is to use the bend but not break method. If they can force a turnover or two and possibly force them to settle for a couple of field goals, they may have a chance.
Packers Steps to Victory
When it comes to the Packers offense, they need to do what they do best which is remain balance. They have done a great job of passing and running the ball this season and averaging 438 yards of offense per game. When it comes to the passing game, the Packers need to first protect quarterback Aaron Rogers because you can bet the Bears will try to pressure him. After that, the Packers receiving core needs to remain consistent, as I mentioned earlier, they are without a couple of guys but this is still a legit receiving core, so those guys need to continue to step up. Rodgers would be smart to be patient as he always is and take what the defense gives him and execute on the big vertical play opportunities.
Which leads me to the running game, it is very important the Packers continue to run the ball well because the Bears will do their best to make the Packers one-dimensional. If the Packers are able to consistently run the ball with running back Eddie Lacy it will keep the Bears defense on their toes and open up some vertical threats in the passing game.
Overall this Bear defense is inconsistent, but that hasn’t stopped them from forcing 18 turnovers this season, so the Packers need to still take care of the ball, seeing that they average around two turnovers a game. If you’re the Packers, there is no need for the Packers shoot themselves in the foot.
Defensively, the Packers need to make this Bear team one-dimensional. Mainly I think they would be smart to shut down the run game and force quarterback Josh McCown to beat them. Chicago offensively has some nice weapons such as wide receivers Brandon Marshall, Alshon Jeffrey, tight end Martellus Bennett, and even running back Matt Forte, but let’s see if McCown will be able to get the ball consistently to the play-makers.
Packers would also be smart to pressure the Bears offensive line and see if they can get some pressure on McCown, he may be a veteran but there is no reason to think he won’t make a bad decision or throw if he is pressured. Ultimately this Packer defense needs to be prepared to limit big plays, while their may be questions about McCown, Bears still have play-makers who are capable of making big plays after the catch.
I am firm believer in never underestimating your opponent especially a rival. However, I don’t expect the Packers to do that, so I have them defeating the Bears in tonight’s match-up. I honestly don’t trust either side of the ball for the Bears and I worry about their ability to finish. I think this will be a good game but I think that the Packers are the better all-around team and will perform like it.
Be sure to tune into the Chicago Bears as they face-off against the Green Bay Packers at 8:25pm (ET) on ESPN.
Written by LBeasley, Sports Contributor for Radio One Detroit
Listen to LBeasley’s Radio Show, “Sports Talk with L-Beasley” every Mon, Wed & Fri from 6-8pm (ET) on LBeasley.com