Two teams with division title aspirations meet at Lambeau Field on Monday night as the Green Bay Packers entertain the Chicago Bears in an NFC North battle.
The Packers have overcome a sluggish start to post four consecutive victories, including a wild 44-31 triumph over the host Minnesota Vikings last week. Chicago has dropped three of four following a season-opening three-game winning streak, and is coming off a much-needed bye.
Here's the breakdown in our betting tale of the tape:
Green Bay comes into the Monday nighter with one of the most formidable offensive attacks in the NFL. The Packers generate a whopping 438.9 yards per game - second only to Denver - and its 30.3 points-per-game average is third in the league. Green Bay has excelled in both the passing games and running games, averaging 297.4 yards per game through the air and an additional 141.4 on the ground.
Chicago has averaged a respectable 254.9 passing yards per game to date, but maintaining that pace may be difficult with starting quarterback Jay Cutler on the sidelines with a groin injury. Backup Jake McCown takes over an offense that sits second in the league in points per game at 30.4; McCown went 14-of-20 for 204 yards and a score against Washington. Chicago is averaging 112.9 rushing yards per contest, putting it in the middle of the pack.
Edge: Green Bay
Green Bay's pass defense has come together nicely after struggling through the first five weeks, limiting Cleveland's Brandon Weeden and Minnesota's Christian Ponder to a combined 294 yards in back-to-back victories. The Packers are still an ordinary pass-defending team overall, surrendering 12 touchdowns with just three interceptions. They've fared much better against the run, allowing the fewest yards on the ground in the league (585).
Chicago's defensive struggles were on display prior to its bye week, when it allowed the Redskins to compile 499 yards of offense - including an absurd 209 on the ground. The Bears are permitting opposing quarterbacks to rack up 274 passing yards per game and have a league-low nine sacks, though Chicago is among the league leaders with 10 interceptions. The Bears are allowing 117.3 rushing yards per contest, among the worst marks in the NFL.
Edge: Green Bay
Green Bay's return game is a contrast in results - averaging a league-worst 15.3 yards per kickoff return and 14.3 yards per punt return, one of the top five rates in the league. The Packers are allowing 32.3 yards per kickoff return - the most in the NFL - but are limiting opponents to 7.9 yards per punt return attempt. Green Bay kicker Mason Crosby has been dependable as always, making 17-of-19 field-goal attempts - including 7-of-9 from 40+ yards.
Chicago has the most kickoff return attempts in the league (30) and is averaging 24.7 yards; it has a 13.3-yard average on punt return attempts, and is one of seven teams with a punt-return touchdown. The Bears rank in the middle of the pack in kickoff return average against (24.9) but are near the bottom in punt return average against (15.2). Kicker Robbie Gould has made 12 of his 13 field-goal attempts, including all six from at least 40 yards out.
"Last year, especially that second game, they rolled to me a lot and left Alshon (Jeffrey) one-on-one. I don't know if they're going to give Alshon one-on-ones this year. He's leading our team in receiving yards. He's been doing a lot of damage." - Bears wide receiver Brandon Marshall
"I guess you could say they get away with some stuff. It's part of football. In the interior, they hold all the time. Receivers push off all the time. And if you're a smart DB, you're going to grab all the time until they warn you and tell you not to do it anymore. They're going to push, I'm going to hold." - Packers cornerback Davon House