Chicago Bears vs. Green Bay Packers: 8 Thursday Night NFL Bold Predictions
What are you doing Thursday night?
Do you have NFL Network, or will you be relegated to spending three times the cost of the upgrade fee on beer and wings?
Leading this off with some stupidity pointing out that the Chicago Bears and Green Bay Packers are playing on Thursday night would be like telling you that people who don't wear deodorant stink.
The NFL and fantasy football have become more popular than combing your hair.
I bet your grandmother plays fantasy football now instead of Bridge. I played against my mom in Week 1 on fanduel.com and afterward she asked me "who the hell was wearing Mark Sanchez's jersey today?"
Yes, mom, he does seem like a nice young man, and yes, he's usually awful.
The Bears and Packers rivalry, however, is not awful. Chicago has lost four straight games to its arch nemesis, but has upgraded its arsenal in a way that would make Frank Castle proud.
No, not Richard Castle. Frank Castle is the Punisher.
The defenses will play along with my analogy, filling the role of the incompetent bad guys who can never hit what they're shooting at, eventually meeting their demise due to incompetence.
Obviously I'm exaggerating the inadequacies of the defenses, but this introduction has to be 300 characters, so I have to say something.
Now that you've no doubt stopped reading this and skipped ahead to the eight predictions, I don't need to tell you that I'll be following this slide with eight borderline-crazy, but still intriguingly sane predictions for this game. After which point, feel free to tell me that I'm an idiot.
1. Randall Cobb Will Catch 10-Plus Passes and Top 125 Yards
Cliche Alert: The stars are aligning for Randall Cobb on Thursday night.
I told you these predictions were borderline crazy.
It's not actually that ridiculous though. Last season the Bears allowed Greg Jennings and Jordy Nelson to each post triple-digit receiving games, and 56-year-old Reggie Wayne went off for 135 yards on nine catches this past Sunday.
Cobb was the lone bright spot in the Packers' loss to the Niners with nine grabs for 77 yards. Greg Jennings is doubtful for the game with a groin injury, setting things up nicely for Cobb, who has plenty of speed to beat the Bears' secondary.
2. Brandon Marshall Will Be Targeted 20 Times
Jay Cutler seems to be enjoying his new sidekick
Brandon Marshall was targeted 15 times on Sunday against Indianapolis in a game in which the Bears built a large lead.
Yes, Chicago was still throwing the ball late in the game and Cutler looked to Alshon Jeffery deep for a touchdown. Marshall, however, will be the quarterback's trusted security blanket in a pressure packed, nationally televised game. He's almost certain to increase the 35 pass attempts he made in Week 1 considering the Packers' firepower, and some will be desperation heaves in the direction of the 6-foot-4 Marshall.
3. Jermichael Finley Will Catch Multiple Touchdown Passes
JerMichael Finley has been a difficult problem for the Bears to solve
Packers' tight end Jermichael Finley caught four touchdowns against the Bears last season, three of which came in one game.
The Bears' defensive scheme has been vulnerable to athletic tight ends, and Brian Urlacher's ailing knee will make it difficult for him to help contain Finley over the middle.
4. Brian Urlacher Will Leave the Game by Halftime
Bears' fans are unlikely to see the Urlacher they're used to any time soon
Bears' Head Coach Lovie Smith expects Brian Urlacher to play Thursday, according to the Chicago Sun-Times.
Urlacher, however, was held out of Tuesdays' practice. It's hard to believe that the middle linebacker will be able to handle a full game that figures to see him doing a lot of running against the Packers' high powered offense.
5. Jay Cutler Will Be Sacked Two or Fewer Times
Jay now has the power to do what he wants
Cutler has gone six games without being sacked more than twice, and the Bears' new offensive scheme should keep him out of danger.
Unlike last season under Mike Martz, he's able to audible, and Cutler figures to utilize quicker passes to running back Matt Forte, receivers Earl Bennett and Marshall, and tight ends Kellen Davis and Evan Rodriguez. The Bears are also likely to include designed quarterback roll-outs in order to keep Cutler away from pressure.
6. Aaron Rodgers Will Complete 75 Percent or More of His Passes
Aaron Rodgers has owned the Bears in his career
Aaron Rodgers has completed 69.7 percent of his passes in eight career games against the Bears. He boasts a quarterback rating of 102.9 with 15 touchdowns and five interceptions in those games, and in 2011 he torched Chicago's defense for eight passing touchdowns. Five came on Christmas Day.
It's safe to say that he knows where the holes are in Chicago's defense.
7. Jay Cutler Will Turn the Ball over Three Times
The Bears' chances Thursday depend largely on Jay Cutler's decision making
The Bears' quarterback threw an ugly interception Sunday to Colts' linebacker Jerrell Freeman, who returned it four yards for a touchdown.
Cutler's 119:87 career touchdown:interception ratio supports his reputation for making poor decisions. He also showed on Sunday that he's willing to force the ball to Brandon Marshall, a habit that's certain to eventually sting Chicago's chances at netting this tough road win.
8. The Packers Will Win by 10-Plus Points
Green Bay will outlast Chicago in a shootout
The Packers are favored by 5.5 points, and will win by double digits.
Expect the Bears to make costly turnovers in key moments and miss a chance to send the Packers, who were 15-1 in 2011, to their third straight loss.