Overview: While the Chicago Bears are coming off an impressive blowout of the Indianapolis Colts, the Green Bay Packers are thrust into a must-win situation following their opening-day loss to the surprising San Francisco 49ers. The Bears scored early and often last week, taking advantage of their Jay Cutler/Brandon Marshall reunion. The Packers struggled to consistently move the ball against the 49ers.
Packers Key Players: WR Randall Cobb, CB Jarrett Bush
Assuming Greg Jennings doesn’t play, a wide receiver from the Packers will need to step up. The most likely candidate: second-year slot receiver Randall Cobb. What the Packers will miss with the loss of Jennings’ great medium and long route running, they will gain by targeting Cobb more often. When Cobb isn’t used as a threat out of the backfield, expect him to get some of Jennings’ usual reps. When he is in the backfield, expect him to be matched up against either Brian Urlacher or Lance Briggs, both solid players, but no where near as fast as Cobb. Either way Cobb should provide double-digit fantasy points again this week.
Jarrett Bush is a great special teams player, but as effective as he is on both punt teams, he really struggles in coverage. Bush is at best an average fourth-string cornerback, but because of the Packers’ lack of starting depth at defensive back and Sam Shields’ recent struggles, Bush has been thrust into starting action. Tramon Williams will take the tough assignment of covering Brandon Marshall, but the Bears still have Johnny Knox and Devin Hester who can burn anyone deep if they aren’t checked. One mistake by Bush could cost the Packers 7 points and possibly the game. If the Packers are going to win, Bush will have to play better than his usual standard.
Bears Key Players: LB Brian Urlacher, QB Jay Cutler
After the success that the Packers found by targeting Randall Cobb out of the backfield against San Francisco’s much younger and faster linebackers, the play of Brian Urlacher will be extremely important in this game. Urlacher is 34-years-old now, and a liability in pass coverage. It will probably be his job to track Cobb out of the backfield. If Cobb makes him miss even a few times, it could result in big plays for the Packers. The Bears won’t be able to commit more players to Cobb because they still have to respect the deep-threats that Jordy Nelson and James Jones provide as well as Jermichael Finley’s midrange game. Urlacher’s effectiveness or lack thereof will end up being a major factor in this game.
Jay Cutler is turnover prone. The Packers’ secondary is full of ball-hawks. It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that they key to the Bears winning this game will be limiting their mistakes on offense. If Cutler takes too long in the pocket or forces too many throws, the Packers’ defense will have a field day. If he plays smart and takes what the Packers give him (read: target Jarrett Bush’s man), the Bears will have a good chance at coming out of Lambeau field with the upset win.
Outlook: Expect both teams to be sharper than they were in week 1, but the Packers will take advantage of all the mismatches that Randall Cobb provides. Expect Cobb to have a 100-yard 2-touchdown game that will be a sign of things to come.
Prediction: Packers 28 – Bears 21
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