Green Bay Packers vs. Chicago Bears: 5 Matchups to Watch as Rivalry Is Renewed
The stakes won't be as high this time around when the Green Bay Packers make a quick trip down to Chicago to battle the Bears at Soldier Field.
However, there is no doubt that both teams will want the game badly even though the early season divisional matchup can't quite compare to last year's NFC Championship Game.
The reigning Super Bowl champions are undefeated after two weeks of football in 2011, but the 1-1 Chicago Bears have had this game highlighted on the schedule since the day it was released.
Expect a bitter battle between these arch rivals and keep an eye on the following five key matchups that are sure to have a heavy impact on the outcome.
Aaron Rodgers vs. the Bears' Secondary
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The last time these two teams met, Aaron Rodgers picked apart the Bears mediocre secondary on the first drive of the game and capped off his passing prowess with a rushing touchdown.
However, it was Chicago's linebackers that got the best of the quarterback and intercepted him twice, including a red zone pick that Brian Urlacher almost took back for a score.
The Packers' receivers remain one of the best groups in the league, while the Bears' secondary still hasn't improved much except for the addition of Brandon Meriweather in the offseason.
Advantage: Aaron Rodgers
Devin Hester vs. Tim Masthay
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Punter Tim Masthay has proved to be a mainstay at the position for the Packers after effectively pinning the opponent deep in their own territory punt after punt.
The Bear's Devin Hester is a more dangerous return man than Darren Sproles who nearly took one back against the Pack in Week 1, but Masthay silenced him in the NFC Championship game, and will look to do the same this time around.
The Packers don't need to worry about their punter, but their coverage on special teams may allow Hester to have a good day.
Clay Matthews vs. Frank Omilaye
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There's probably not a person in the country that hasn't heard of the beatings Jay Cutler has been experiencing as a result of Chicago's weak offensive line.
So what did the Bears do to address the problem? They drafted Gabe Carimi in the offseason to reinforce the right side of Cutler's protection.
The only problem is that the rookie right tackle will be sitting out with a dislocated knee cap, leaving backup Frank Omilaye to try to keep Clay Matthews at bay.
Matthews will be very hungry to get to the quarterback with only one sack thus far after having six by this time last season. I'm sure Dom Capers will give him many chances to do just that.
Advantage: Clay Matthews
Julius Peppers vs. Chad Clifton
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Aaron Rodgers may not have as much to fear as Cutler, but Julius Peppers and the Bears pass rush can't be taken lightly.
I wouldn't be surprised if Rodgers is still having nightmares about the times Peppers popped him in the backfield, including some hits that came after he got rid of the ball.
Chad Clifton won't be able to stop one of the most ferocious defensive ends in the league at his age, but he will be expected to contain him and keep his quarterback off of the treacherous Soldier Field turf.
Advantage: Julius Peppers
Matt Forte vs. the Packers Defense
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Matt Forte is Chicago's clear offensive target and probably the best playmaker Jay Cutler has to go to. He has over three hundred total yards, mainly because heavy blitzing from opposing defenses allows frequent opportunities for screen passes.
The Packers have done a decent job stopping the run, but have given up way too many yards through the air.
If Dom Capers can come up with a healthy balance of blitzing and zone coverage in his game plan, the Pack's defense should have a solid day. If not, Forte may have his way and the Bears could put up some points at home.