Green Bay Packers Prepare To Host Chicago Bears


The Green Bay Packers soothed some jittery nerves around Wisconsin with a win last week and now host the Chicago Bears Thanksgiving night.

What a difference a win makes.

Last week, the Green Bay Packers were on the edge of the cliff. Coming off three straight losses, the team was (according to most, including myself) in a “must-win” scenario as the surging Minnesota Vikings looked to crown themselves king of the NFC North. What did the Packers do?

Only respond with one of their best performances of the year, soundly defeating the Vikings 30-13 while also limiting Adrian Peterson to only 45 yards rushing. Now, they’re back on top of the division and poised to make a run to the Super Bowl, right?

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While it’s obviously way too early to begin preparing any flights to San Francisco, it is impressive to see how Green Bay responded to all the adversity they were facing coming into last week.

From a defensive standpoint, the team put together its most solid performance, stifling Adrian Peterson and absolutely wrecking Minnesota’s offensive line for most of the game, totaling up six sacks and a turnover. Offensively, they were better, but still looked woeful at times.

Drops and miscommunication continue to plague the team, but they won’t have long to prepare, as the team plays Thursday in its first home Thanksgiving game in almost 100 years. Let’s take a look at their opponent, the Chicago Bears.

Who Are They?

Don’t look now, but the Bears aren’t the hapless team many think them to be. After losing four of their first six, the Bears managed to right the ship slightly and get themselves to a 4-6 record, which isn’t too far from a wild card spot.

While it’s safe to say they won’t be winning the division (barring some sort of epic collapse), the Bears are still very much in the hunt for a potential playoff trip. 

While most probably won’t count on him, Jay Cutler has been a consistent quarterback for most of this season, posting up a TD/INT ratio of 13-7 on the year to go along with a very good 92.7 passer rating. All of this is done, surprisingly, without many of his former weapons.

Alshon Jeffery and Matt Forte have been plagued by injuries this year, Brandon Marshall is a Jet, and his brand new rookie wide receiver might not even touch the field all year. Regardless, he has found a way to keep the team in contention, which is commendable. 

Cutler may be helping the Bears this year, but the defense is doing them absolutely no favors. The team has so far allowed 25 points per game, good for bottom 10 in the NFL. Chicago’s defense is currently giving up a passer rating of 97.6 and allowing opposing runners to average almost 125 yards a game against them.

What once was the pride of the team has quickly become a disaster, and this could be another chance for Green Bay to find some rhythm early on.

What to watch for: 

A Night Never to 4Get: This is going to be a big night for many reasons. The Packers haven’t hosted a Thanksgiving game since 1923, and the atmosphere in the building will be incredible. The team also has a chance to finally tie up the series against Chicago with a win on Thursday (a victory would make Green Bay 92-92-6).

What everyone is excited to see, however, is Packers legend Brett Favre getting his number retired, a ceremony that many might say is long overdue. Not only will the ceremony be taking place, but Bart Starr will also be flying in. After suffering two strokes and a heart attack, it is going to be a rare treat to see all three of Green Bay’s legendary quarterbacks all in the same building. Make sure to set your DVR’s. 

Defensive Rhythm: Last week, the Packers managed to hold Adrian Peterson to under 50 yards, and this week they’ll be facing a tough test once again. Matt Forte looks to be back from his injury, but both he and rookie Jeremy Langford have proven to be extremely talented backs this season. If the team wants to win, they’ll have to once again start up front and contain the dual threats. Sam Shields will also be tasked with the job of guarding Alshon Jeffery, a matchup that is always exciting to watch.

Offensive Woes: While the offense managed to get in rhythm for some moments last week, a lot of drives were either stalled or completely killed due to miscommunication and drops. The missteps could be explained away with players having not played together enough, but there is never any excuse for dropping a seemingly easy catch. Just like last week, the Packers three main receivers (Jones, Cobb, and Adams) will all have to step up to keep the Packers winning. 

Keys to Victory: 

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Just as last weeks key started with the defense, this one will start with the offense.

In the Week 1 matchup between the Packers and Bears, Green Bay’s offense managed to keep Chicago at bay long enough to create a two score lead, helping the defense by basically shutting down the Chicago run game. As both Matt Forte and Jeremy Langford have proven to be talented rushers, this will have to happen again, and the Packers offense forming some sort of rhythm will be the key early on in the game. 

Jay Cutler is a pitiful 1-11 (excluding playoffs) vs. Green Bay, posting up a TD/INT ratio of 15-22 and a passer rating of 67.2 in those 12 games. In order to move to 8-3, Green Bay will have to continue to pressure Cutler into making the mistakes he has been known to make and be able to capitalize on them. 

Chicago has most certainly improved since the Packers last saw them, but Thanksgiving night at Lambeau might be too special. With Brett Favre and Bart Starr in the building, I can’t see Green Bay losing this one. 

Prediction: Green Bay 28, Chicago 14