Green Bay Packers Week 3 Preview: On the Road Against the Chicago Bears

Chad LundbergCorrespondent IIISeptember 20, 2011

Green Bay Packers Week 3 Preview: On the Road Against the Chicago Bears

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    The league's oldest rivalry continues, as the Green Bay Packers travel to take on their long-hated rival, the Chicago Bears.

    What makes this so amazing is that we may be entering the greatest chapter in the history of this 90-year-old rivalry. The era of quarterbacks Jay Cutler, and Aaron Rodgers.

    Both quarterbacks are athletically similar in arm strength and ability to run. Cutler throws far more interceptions than Rodgers, but it's Rodgers who works with a high octane offense.

    Never before have these two teams met each other in the postseason in the Super Bowl era until last year, where the Packers beat Chicago 21-14 to advance to the Super Bowl. And now, Chicago has its mind on revenge.

    Here's a look at how the Packers and Bears stack up.

Can Jay Cutler Take Advantage of an Out-of-Sync Defense?

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    Last week, I wrote that Cam Newton should surprise the Packers, but not anything to the extent of pulling off an upset. I was right, but he sure surprised the Packers much more than I thought he would.

    But after reviewing the game, as hard as it is to believe (believe me, no one hates excuses more than I), I believe that game was just one gigantic fluke.

    Cam Newton is elusive and big, and he was able to buy a lot of time. But, even with all the time he was buying, he was sacked four times, the Panthers scored one touchdown against Jarret Bush, and one late in the fourth quarter that didn't really matter.

    That leaves Carolina with only nine legit points for the entire game. This week, Tramon Williams should be back in the line-up, and the Bears don't have a No. 1 receiver like Carolina did with Steve Smith.

    There is one thing that the Bears hold over the Packers, however, and that is running back Matte Forte. Forte is probably the most underrated running back in the NFL.

    Forte is one of the better receiving running backs in the NFL with over 200 yards receiving already this season, and averaged 4.5 yards per carry last season with what is arguably the worst offensive line in football. That's not good news for a team that has allowed over 200 receiving yards to running back's DeAngelo Williams, Pierre Thomas and Darren Sproles.

    Expect the Bears to capitalize on that as much as possible.

    Outside of Forte though, the Bears don't have much that they can push with their offense.

    Like I said earlier, the offensive line is one of the worst in football right now, and it doesn't help that Gabe Carimi is out for the game. The Packers should be able to rush the passer at will in this game. With Tramon Williams coming back, you can expect Jay Cutler to struggle getting his team down the field.

    And even if they do manage to score points:

Aaron Rodgers and the League's Best Offense

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    The Packers aren't the No. 1 offense in the league statistically, but they probably are on paper.

    Aaron Rodgers didn't have an encore performance against Carolina, but the guy still had two touchdowns and 300 passing yards while barely breaking a sweat (those of you who watched the game know what I'm talking about).

    Rodgers has so many weapons to throw to that he's having a hard time trying to keep them all happy. Can the Bears contain Rodgers ability to throw the ball down the field like they have in the past? This is one matchup to keep your eye on.

    James Starks is a star in the making, and, coupled with Ryan Grant and the possible debut of Alex Green, the Bears will have their hands full making sure the Packers will be ineffective running the ball.

    And, in my opinion, the best thing about Green Bay's offense is the improved pass protection. Rodgers was sacked 115 times from 2008-2010, but the line has only allowed three sacks so far this season.

    And that's not against the typical three or four man rush. Opposing teams have been throwing not four, not five, not six, but seven defenders in Rodgers way, and yet the line has done a beautiful job of keeping Rodgers comfortable in the pocket.

Special Teams

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    We all know that Chicago's special teams are one of the best in the league. Devin Hester and Johnny Knox with the lightning fast returns, Julius Peppers tearing it up at the line of scrimmage, and Robbie Gould is one of the best kickers in the NFL.

    The Green Bay Packers are heavily regarded as one of the worst special teams in the NFL, and rightfully so considering how many 70+ yard returns they've allowed in the past three seasons.

    But Green bay's special teams is improving, and adding more weapons. Tim Masthay has one of the strongest legs in the NFL, Jarret Bush catching the ball behind the 5-yard line and Randall Cobb is already making a huge impact as a returner.

    The Packers' special teams has the ability to compete on Sunday, and that was reminiscent of their last two meetings against Chicago. The Masthay-Bush combo effectively contained Devin Hester from making any impact whatsoever.

    This one is totally up in the air, because while the Bears have one of the better special teams units in the NFL, the Packers have proven that they can compete with them. This should be a very interest battle to watch unfold.

Conclusion

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    The Packers will face the Bears this time with Finley, Grant, Green, Cobb and a better offensive line, but that's not to say that I won't take the Bears seriously.

    The way Coach Lovie Smith prepares for the Packers can be summed up into this sentence: if there's a way to beat the Packers, Smith will be the guy to find it.

    Last season we saw the Packers completely lose composure in Week 3, where they were penalized a record 18 times. Half of that was completely on Green Bay, but the other half in my opinion was the Bears frustrating the Packers into a downward spiral.

    Smith exploited them where he knew he could get them, and it equaled a victory for Chicago.

    What I'm trying to say is that no matter how different these two teams look like on paper, statistically, emotionally or mentally, it just comes down to who hates each other more, and like I said, it's Chicago that wants a little payback.

    On paper, I feel as though I would have to take the Packers, but the Bears will yank something out of thin air and make it a close game.

    The Packers CAN lose this game; therefore I cannot make any prediction.