It's finally here...almost.
The Green Bay Packers and Chicago Bears are less than 48 hours away from opening their 2009 regular seasons. Both have aspirations of winning the NFC North and making a run to Super Bowl XLIV. The roads for both teams start this Sunday night against each other at Lambeau Field.
For once, there wasn't a quarterback causing a stir up Green Bay's way. There definitely was a stir in Chicago though.
Jay Cutler, unhappy with the way new Denver coach Josh McDaniels failed to hide his dream of coaching Matt Cassell as a Bronco (and maybe with the way mean ol' Philip Rivers picked on him), demanded to be traded.
Denver found a suitor in the Chicago Bears.
Without question, this is a significant upgrade for the entire Bears franchise, whose quarterback history will not be re-hashed here, but suffice it to say that it's not a good one.
Cutler will find himself going up against a revamped and, from the looks of the preseason, rejuvenated defensive unit for the Green Bay Packers. Charles Woodson will be able to show off his Heisman Trophy winning athleticism and All-Pro zone coverage instincts for the first time since coming to Green Bay.
But the Bears aren't stupid. They know that the Packers secondary will have the advantage against a group of number two receivers and a kickoff returner masquerading as one.
Instead, the Bears will try to take advantage of Aaron Kampman, who is moving from defensive end to linebacker in the new 3-4 defense. Look for Bears tight end and top receiving threat Greg Olsen to line up on Kampman's side trying to take advantage of his inexperience in pass protection.
If the Bears are to win this game, they will need Olsen and running back Matt Forte to control the football and efficiently move the offense down the field in clock consuming scoring drives. This will make the Packer defense tired and, more importantly, keep Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay offense off the field.
But if Chicago is unable to sustain drives, watch out. The Bears defense, assumed to be stout because it's the Bears defense, isn't as good as it has been in the past.
Brian Urlacher and the rest of Chicago's defensive front seven is aging. Same with the Bear safeties. Top cornerback Charles "Peanut" Tillman is listed as questionable for the game, which could spell big trouble for third-year player Trumaine McBride, who will be forced to cover either Greg Jennings or Donald Driver.
When the Packers have the ball, Aaron Rodgers will try to exploit the short handed secondary of Chicago. Sprinkle in a little Ryan Grant to keep the safeties honest, and there's a good possibility of Rodgers having a huge game in his 2009 debut.
In an exciting game pitting the NFL's oldest rivals against each other, Rodgers and the Packers passing attack will be too much for a dinking and dunking Chicago counter-attack.
Final Score: Green Bay 30-17 Chicago
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