In Week 3 of the young NFL season, Green Bay at Chicago is the glamour game of the week—and the Fox nationally televised game—as the NFL’s longest-running rivalry is renewed for the fourth time in almost exactly one calendar year (it falls two days short).
Of course last season, as every year, the clubs met in each other’s stadiums during the regular season, with each winning at home. But last season also saw Green Bay visit Chicago for the NFC Championship Game, which the Packer's won, 21-14, and Bears' QB Jay Cutler get socially barbecued for not playing through an injury in the second half.
Ironically, Cutler is the big storyline again this week. He was completely battered in last week’s loss at New Orleans and the Fox cameras caught a visibly frustrated Cutler at one point standing almost 20 yards away from his nearest teammate or coach on the sidelines. Think the Packers might send a little pressure on Sunday?
Packers at Bears Betting Storylines
Green Bay was, as expected, 2-0 entering this one. Offensively, Aaron Rodgers and Co. have looked brilliant with the returns of RB Ryan Grant and TE Jermichael Finley from injury. The Packers are fourth in the league in points per game at 36.0, eighth in passing (295.5 yards per game) and 11th in rushing (113.5). The ground attack was non-existent last regular season after Grant went out in the opener, but now it’s pick your poison for opposing defenses.
However, the Green Bay defense has looked very unsteady. The Packers have allowed the third-most net yards in the NFL and rank dead last in passing defense. They allowed both Drew Brees and Panthers' rookie Cam Newton to exceed 400 yards passing. In fact, the Pack were on the verge of a potentially colossal upset last week in Carolina as Newton led the Panthers to scores on each of the team's first three possessions.
Luckily for the Pack, future Hall of Famer Charles Woodson came to the rescue and helped turn the tide. Woodson had two interceptions and recovered a Steve Smith fumble forced by Packers' safety Morgan Burnett to help secure the victory.
The problem for the Bears is there is almost no way they will attack Green Bay repeatedly through the air. Offensive coordinator Mike Martz has been getting pilloried in Chicago for his pass-to-run ratio of 45:12 in the loss to New Orleans. Head coach Lovie Smith made it clear this week that the Bears would be much more balanced going forward, which means a bigger diet of Matt Forte.
Plus, the Bears need to run more just to keep Cutler from getting killed. He was sacked six times last week, but that total easily could have been doubled. It looked like the porous Chicago line of last season when the Bears gave up a league-leading 56 sacks. Cutler already has gone down 11 times this year.
Add to the fact that Cutler will be missing two Opening Day starters on the line in right tackle Gabe Carimi, who hurt his knee last week, and right guard Lance Louis, out last week because of an ankle injury. There’s an outside chance Louis could play this week but Carimi, the best player on that line vs. the Saints, is out. Five of the Saints’ six sacks of Cutler came after Carimi left with the injury.
Former Cowboys' WR Roy Williams and RB Marion Barber both missed last week, but both are looking more and more likely to play. Safety Chris Harris, who was badly missed last week in the secondary, should return. WR Earl Bennett is out.
For the Packers, they suffered a key injury vs. the Panthers in losing three-time Pro Bowl safety Nick Collins for the year with a neck issue. Collins was hurt as he tried to tackle Panthers running back Jonathan Stewart. As Stewart attempted to hurdle Collins, the safety's head collided with Stewart's hip, and his neck bent awkwardly. Standout cornerback Tramon Williams missed Sunday's game with a bruised shoulder, but he is hopeful of playing vs. Chicago. That Green Bay secondary can’t afford any injuries right now.
Packers at Bears Betting Odds and Trends
Green Bay is currently a 3.5-point favorite on WagerWeb with the total at 45.5, according to NFL odds. The lean is at 70 percent on the Pack (1-1 ATS this year, as are Bears—both teams failed to cover in their lone road game).
Packers are 5-1 ATS in their past six, following a win. They are 4-0 ATS in their past four, following an ATS loss. Bears are 5-0-1 ATS in their past six, following a game in which they scored less than 15 points. They are 6-2 ATS in their past eight vs. teams with a winning record.
The ‘under’ is 4-0 in Green Bay’s past four vs. NFC North. The ‘over’ is 5-1 in Chicago’s past six home games. The ‘under’ is 7-0 in the past seven meetings. Green Bay has covered in five of the past seven meetings.
Packers at Bears Betting Predictions and Football Picks
This is game No. 183 between these clubs. Last year was only the second playoff meeting. Including last season’s victory over Chicago in the postseason, the Packers have won 14 of the last 19 games at Soldier Field.
I honestly don’t know what to make of the Bears right now. Are they as good as they looked in clubbing Atlanta in the opener (with the Falcons then beating Philly last week)? Or is their line so bad that the Bears are more like the team that showed up against the Saints? Chicago did have success against Rodgers last season, but they never had to deal with Grant. Finley also only played in the first meeting.
I have to go with Green Bay to win by a touchdown, so give the points. But I can’t ignore the ‘under’ trend, so take that as well.
Doc’s Sports has his week three NFL plays available, and on the site you can check out more info on them, as well as read more previews and predictions from around the football world.
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