Packers vs. Bears: 5 Big Questions for Sunday's Game in Chicago
The Packers will play the Bears for the first time since meeting in the NFC Championship game last season. The Packers are coming off a close win against Carolina, while the Bears are coming off a bad loss against New Orleans.
Both teams will have plenty motivation to win on Sunday, as the Bears can keep pace with the Packers with a 2-1 record if they win, while the Packers can get off to their first 3-0 start since 2007.
However, for each team to succeed, there are plenty of questions surrounding both of them, from Chicago's shaky offensive line to the Packers' defensive struggles in the first two weeks. Will either team be able to take advantage of these possible weaknesses?
Here are 5 questions that will be answered on Sunday against the Bears.
Will the Packers' Defense Bounce Back After a Shaky Two Weeks?
The Packers defense was one of the best in the league last year, but in the first two weeks this year, they have already allowed 57 points, in the first week against Drew Brees and the Saints, and in the second week against Cam Newton and the Panthers.
Both the Saints and the Panthers offense were hard to stop, and while the Packers made key stops in both games, they also kept both teams in the game longer than they should have. In addition, both quarterbacks threw for over 400 yards, signaling that the Packers may be having trouble against the pass.
The good news is that the Bears passing game struggled last week against the Saints, and, in addition, regularly struggles against the Packers, as Jay Cutler has thrown nine interceptions in five games against Green Bay, on his way to a passer rating of 61 against the Packers.
If the Packers can't stop Jay Cutler and a Bears offense that has a weak receiving corps and a terrible offensive line, then the Packers may have serious concerns on defense.
Will Charlie Peprah Fill Nick Collins' Big Shoes?
Last week, Nick Collins was sidelined for a year with a serious neck injury, leaving the Packers with Charlie Peprah, a backup who stepped in last year for fellow safety Morgan Burnett, and played quite well at the position.
However, replacing Nick Collins could be a much more difficult task than replacing Burnett, as Collins is a veteran leader on that defense, and a huge playmaker to boot. While I do think that Peprah is a good football player who will do well at the safety position, losing Collins is still a huge loss, and Peprah is going to have to step up big time.
Will the Defensive Line Take Advantage of a Bad Offensive Line?
Against the Saints last week, Jay Cutler was sacked six times, which is hardly a surprise given how badly the offensive line played in the preseason. In addition, the Bears did very little to shore up a line that was just as bad last year, even getting rid of their veteran center Olin Kreutz. The Bears did draft Wisconsin tackle Gabe Carimi, but he is out this week with an injury.
The Packers defensive line may have lost Cullen Jenkins in the offseason, but there is still alot of talent on the line that could easily pressure that offensive line and get Cutler sacked multiple times. The Packers may be smart to blitz on every down, giving Cutler constant pressure and forcing him to make some bad throws.
Will the Packers Offense Play Consistent Football?
Last week, the Packers put up 30 points, but they could have put up over 40, as they failed to cash in on several turnovers by Cam Newton, and had to settle for field goals. Had the Packers scored a touchdown on at least one of those drives in the third quarter, they would have put away the game early in the fourth quarter rather than late in the fourth.
Offensively, the Packers have been solid, playing a nearly perfect game against the Saints, and despite struggling a bit against Carolina, still put together several solid drives that put the Packers in a position to win.
However, like the Bears offense, the Packers offense doesn't play their best against the Bears, as most games in recent history between the two have been low-scoring defensive battles.
The Packers offense may struggle a bit next week against Chicago, but the Packers shouldn't be too concerned, as their offense is off to a strong start despite a few issues with consistency.
Will the Offensive Line Protect Aaron Rodgers?
There is no doubt that the Packers offensive line has played better than the Bears' offensive line has, but there are certainly still some questions, as the line struggled mightily in the preseason, so much that they had to cut many of their backups, leaving only eight total lineman on the roster.
The starting offensive line is solid, but still has its question marks, with the aging of Chad Clifton and the inexperience of Bryan Bulaga. The offensive line will have its hands full this week against a stout Bears defense that includes Brian Urlacher, Julius Peppers, and Lance Briggs.
If the Packers want to win in Chicago this week, the offensive line will have to step up and keep Aaron Rodgers upright.
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