Keys to the Game: Bears vs. Packers

Steve O Speak

Green Bay Packers:

1. Use the Deep Passing Game as A Decoy: After last week’s game against the Falcons, everyone in Chicago is expecting Aaron Rodgers to air this ball out and try to get the big play. If I’m the Packers I’d use those expectations to my advantage. I would continuously send receivers on deep routes and run a series of draws and short passing routes underneath. If Chicago commits the safety to stopping the deep pass, then the field will be open to turn a short 6 yard pass into a big gain. Conversely if they give their corners safety help then I’d attack deep to Greg Jennings. I’m guessing they won’t want to get beat by the pass, so you probably will have some openings underneath. The Packers have to take advantage of that and force the Bears into changing their defensive strategy.

2. Attack The Bears Offensive Line: In two games against the Bears, the Packers have 9 sacks on Jay Cutler, yet they only split the series and barely beat them the last week of the season. The sacks though did kill a number of drives for the Bears, and the constant pressure did slow them down somewhat. Green Bay has to keep the pressure on, and not let Cutler feel comfortable at home.

3. Run the Ball Effectively: The Packers just haven’t been able to move the ball on the ground against the Bears defense, and that has to change if they want to win today. Green Bay will need both Starks and Kuhn to pick up the tough yards, and extend drives for them. They simply can’t continuously get stuffed, forcing 2nd and 3rd and long plays. The Packers could also use some long drives to eat up the clock. The Packers don’t need a huge game on the ground, but I’d say they have to pick up 80+ to win today.

Chicago Bears:

1. Get Devin Hester Involved: Unfortunately I don’t really see Hester getting an opportunity to contribute on punt returns, so you will have to find even more ways to get him involved. I would first and foremost make him your primary kick returner today. Daniel Manning does a nice job, but Hester is something special. And if they are going to be kicking away from him in the punting game, Hester should’t get too tired fielding kickoffs, and the Packers either concede good field position or put it in Hester’s hands. I’d also try to get Hester on some crossing routes in the open field with other receivers running routes to clear out the zone. If the Bears utilize Hester as a weapon, they could really open up this game, and force the Packers to change their strategy.

2. Run the Ball/Rely On the Screen: That Packers pass rush is incredible so the Bears have to find a way to keep Cutler from being killed back there. I would use the run and short screen passes to slow down the Packers blitz. Matt Forte is extremely effective catching the ball out of the backfield, so I’d make him one of your offensive centerpieces early on in the game.

3. Control the Line of Scrimmage on Defense With Your Front Seven: The Bears have to be able to both stop the run and get pressure on Aaron Rodgers solely with their front seven if they want to win. The Packers wide receivers are too good to offer safety help in the running game, or pull someone off coverage for a blitz. If Chicago can win the battle up front then they have a real shot in this game.

Prediction: Packers 23-20

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