We're not fooling around when it comes to this week's Monday nighter. To help us get completely set for tonight’s Packers-Bears game, we peppered bloggers for Bear Goggles On and Acme Packing Company with questions on Monday’s NFC North battle.
Da Bears Point of View
Mike Burzawa is editor for Chicago Bears blog, Bear Goggles On. He’s a true degenerate and puts up Madden 11 simulated picks up on his site every Friday.
So Mike, how worried should we be about the Bears offensive line? Jay Cutler looked like he was getting hit hard on every drop back in the first quarter against Dallas.
The line’s still a work in progress. The Bears brought Mike Tice in as the O-line coach but didn’t get much help. Former first-round pick, LT Chris Williams is out with a hamstring, so the line will be even thinner than usual. The funny thing is, they seemed to pull together after he went out early during the Cowboys game.
Look for Mike Martz to try to adapt the play calling to counter whatever the Packers are doing. He did it successfully in Dallas with short drops, screen passes and quick slants that turned into big gains. That took some pressure off Cutler and eventually the Bears were able to take some shots downfield.
Still, Clay Matthews scares the heck out of me. The guy has been a freak in the early going this season with a pair of three-sack games. If the Bears can slow him down, Cutler might actually make it out of this game in one piece.
Speaking of Martz, do you see him calling more run plays to keep the ball out of Aaron Rodgers’ hands? Oddsmakers put out a total of 46, which is kinda high for a Bears game.
The Packers have shown to be vulnerable against the run, so I hope he dials up a few runs, but realistically I don’t expect much running from either team. So far the Bears haven’t excelled at running the ball, with Martz electing to use screen passes and little dump-offs as running plays.
Martz has been a wiz with his play-calling so far. Is he the most popular person in Chicago right now? Should the guy run for mayor? Seems like the Bears didn’t have any weapons on offense until he showed up.
They have already commissioned a statue of Martz for outside of Soldier Field. You have to understand that after years of Ron Turner’s vanilla offense, anything was going to be seen as a major improvement. He seems to have gotten through to Cutler, who leads the league in passer rating heading into the weekend’s action.
Can’t talk about the Bears without a mention of their defense. They’re best in the league stopping the run but their secondary looks a little iffy. How good is this defense? Where does it compare to past years’ units?
There are still some big concerns in the Bears’ secondary, particularly at the safety position. One of the guys they were hoping to be an answer back there is rookie Major Wright but unfortunately he pulled a hamstring last week and will miss the Packers game.
Charles Tillman is the best in the business at stripping the ball away from the opposition and second year man Zack Bowman is an up-and-comer at the other corner spot.
The linebacking corps could very well be the best in football. Brian Urlacher has been flying around, Lance Briggs is playing like an All-Pro and Pisa Tinoisamoa is no slouch on the strong side, either.
Julius Peppers definitely changes the complexion of the defensive line. The dude is just a freak. His play hasn’t translated to a ton of sacks yet, but he’s creating some opening for the other guys. Now it’s time for Tommie Harris, Mark Anderson and company to walk through it.
Final score prediction: Bears 26, Packers 24
Packers Point of View
Our man Tex, regular writer for Packers blog Acme Packing Company, was good enough to tackle our questions on the Pack.
The Packers are putting up big points but they’re struggling to get the running game going. Should bettors be worried about a one-dimensional attack on offense?
Without question, the step back from Ryan Grant to the Brandon Jackson/John Kuhn tandem will lessen the Packers' rushing effectiveness. You won't see either of those two run for 1,000 yards, let alone the 1,200 that Grant had each of the past two years.
However, the Packers are still based around a West Coast-style offense, utilizing short throws and relying on players to make plays after the catch. Jackson is an excellent blocker and receiver out of the backfield, and Mike McCarthy should look to get him more involved in the game by using screen and swing passes instead of traditional running plays.
A lot of people thought that Green Bay’s secondary was going to be a soft spot this season. The unit’s played well so far but do you think the Bears will test Tramon Williams early and often?
The Bears have something not a lot of teams do: two extremely fast wideouts. Devin Hester and Johnny Knox might not be polished receivers, but speed hides many flaws, and those two are burners.
Expect Tramon Williams to be matched up on the outside with one of them, and I could see that being a matchup the Bears would try to exploit. However, I think they're more likely to look to their athletic tight end Greg Olsen over the middle against the Packers' linebackers and the rookie safety Morgan Burnett.
Which matchup do you expect the Packers to try and exploit vs. Chicago?
The Bears offensive line is a shadow of its former self. I expect defensive coordinator Dom Capers to dial up the pressure early and often. Sooner or later, Clay Matthews will be slowed down by someone, but I don't expect it to be this week.
Final score prediction: Packers 20, Bears 17 (And for the record, I wrote that before looking up the spread and seeing GB -3.)