The Bears got a big win against the Indianapolis Colts this last Sunday afternoon and hope to continue their new-found offensive success against the winless Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field on Thursday night. The Bears' offense proved that it’s not only gotten better, but it’s gotten more potent, and this could make it tough on a Packers defense that was overcome by the San Francisco 49ers' passing game on Sunday.
So can the Bears beat the Packers and move to 2-0? Can the Bears' offense keep up with what has traditionally been an explosive Packers offense? Will Chicago’s defense be able to keep quarterback Aaron Rodgers and the rest of the Packers' offense at bay while the offense puts points on the board?
Here are five key things that the Bears must do this Thursday night to ensure a win against the Packers and a lead in the NFC North.
Spread the Ball Around
Jay Cutler will fixate himself on wide receiver Brandon Marshall, but that may not necessarily be a bad thing. However, the Packers are sure to try to double-team Marshall and take him out of the game, which means that Cutler will have to throw to other receivers.
The nice thing is that he has fully capable help at other receiver positions with guys like Alshon Jeffery, Earl Bennett and Devin Hester. He just needs to get the ball out to these guys and the Bears should pick up where they left off against the Colts.
Get Pressure on Rodgers
The key to keeping a quarterback like Rodgers off his mark is to get good pass pressure on him. The 49ers were able to do it against the Packers, and the Bears have the horses to do it Thursday night.
If they can get to Rodgers and force him to make mistakes, the Bears can take advantage of those errors and win the game. With guys like Julius Peppers, Henry Melton, Israel Idonije and sack specialist Shea McClellin (who had some good pressure on Andrew Luck in the Bears' first game), Chicago shouldn’t have much trouble rushing the passer.
Run the Football
The Bears didn’t run the ball as much against the Colts, but they didn’t have to. It can be assured that to keep the ball out of Rodgers' and the potent Packers offense’s hands, the Bears will want to put the ball on the ground much more in this game than they did against Indianapolis. Both Matt Forte and Michael Bush are fully capable of handling the ball several times a game, so the Bears should try to run the ball against the Packers. Time of possession will be a key component to winning this game.
Protect the Quarterback
The Bears' offensive line did a decent enough job of protecting Cutler on Sunday, but they will be facing a much different test when they go against the Packers.
Clay Matthews, the Packers All-Pro outside linebacker, can wreak havoc on quarterbacks, and the Bears can’t afford to have him putting a damper on their passing game. This is why the Bears must block the Packers' pass rush well and give Cutler time to throw. Perhaps keeping a back in to help block would be a good idea.
Get the Early Lead
The only bad thing about getting an early lead in this game is that you would force Rodgers and the Packers' offense into panic mode, forcing them to pass the ball perhaps much more than you would want them to. That does give the Bears the opportunity to ratchet up their pass rush and get to Rodgers, forcing him to make mistakes, which the Bears' defense and offense could take advantage of.
The Bears could also grab the lead and turn on their ground game, controlling the ball and the clock while keeping it out of the hands of that potent Packers offense.