5 Things Green Bay Packers Must Do To Defeat Chicago Bears
5 Things Green Bay Packers Must Do To Defeat Chicago Bears
The Green Bay Packers (9-4) will take on the Chicago Bears (8-5) at Soldier Fold Sunday afternoon with the NFC North division on the line. Do the Packers have what it takes to clinch their second consecutive division title or will the Bears make it come down to the wire?
Green Bay has an opportunity to defeat Chicago for the second time this season and the sixth time in as many games, including the 2010 NFC Championship game. The oldest rivalry in the NFL has been very competitive over the years since the team’s first meeting on November 27, 1921. However, the Packers have made the rivalry more one-sided as they have won seven of the last eight contests. The Bears still own the Packers in the all-time series 92-87-6, but one has to wonder how long that will last.
Green Bay has completely transformed their defense from one of the worst a year ago to one of the most electric, even without superstar linebacker Clay Matthews and defensive back Charles Woodson. The team’s talented defense consists of four players that were selected within the first six picks of the 2012 NFL Draft. Not to mention, everyone in the secondary is under the age of 24 with the exception of Tramon Williams and Woodson.
Things are looking up for the Packers, even though the 2012 season is nowhere near what anyone had expected. On the other hand, the Bears are struggling and could be only the second team in the last 23 years to miss the playoffs after starting the season with a 7-1 record. There is no question the rivalry will be heated this weekend, as both teams will not only be playing for the present but the future as well.
Make sure to click through the slideshow to see the top five things Green Bay must do to defeat Chicago.
#5 Be Efficient
If the Packers want to defeat the Bears this Sunday then they must be efficient on offense. This means converting a high percentage of third downs and not giving Chicago a short field on turnovers. It also means running the ball if the Bears give it instead of trying to force a pass. Quarterback Aaron Rodgers may have only tossed two touchdown passes in the past three games, but the team has still been efficient by scoring 50 combined points in the last two victories. Efficiency has always been what wins games in this physical rivalry so there is no reason to change it now with so much on the line.
The Packers converted only 29 percent of their third down conversions in their last meeting with the Bears. However, they were able to complete a fourth-and-26 for a touchdown in the second quarter when placekick holder Tim Masthay tossed the ball to tight end Tom Crabtree for the 27-yard gain. Green Bay must figure out a way once again to maximize their opportunities.
#4 Win Turnover Battle
The Packers dominated the turnover battle in the 23-10 victory over the Bears in Week 2. Green Bay intercepted Chicago quarterback Jay Cutler four times while they only turned the ball over twice. One was a Jermichael Finley fumble late in the third quarter while the other was a Rodgers interception in the fourth. It is imperative the Packers have the same success in their matchup this weekend because the Bears lead the league in interceptions (21), as well as, defensive touchdowns (7). Chicago is also second in the NFL in forced fumbles (21) and fumble recoveries (14).
#3 Get After Jay Cutler
Cutler has been knocked around quite a bit this season, which means it will not take much to rattle him. The Packers did a good job of this in Week 2 when they sacked him seven times for a total of 52 yards. Green Bay swarmed Cutler and never allowed him to get comfortable in the pocket, which made the quarterback turn on his own offensive linemen. The good news is Green Bay should be getting Matthews back for the game, who is the team’s sack leader with nine. The fact that the Packers rank second in the NFC with 35 sacks and the Bears have surrendered 37 should also be reassuring.
#2 Continue Run Success
Green Bay has averaged 135.8 rushing yards over their past five games, which is great news for a team that enjoys passing. The balance has made the Packers even better on offense and more difficult to defeat. The emergence of DuJuan Harris, the consistency of Alex Green and the fact Ryan Grant is back in the mix will give opposing defense all sorts of trouble because each running back brings something different to the table.
Head coach Mike McCarthy likes nothing more than a solid run attack and he certainly has to be pleased what he has witnessed that last several weeks. He must continue to call the running plays and the offense must execute them successfully in order for the team to play at a high level. Chicago understands Green Bay will try to come out running against them but at the same time, they know they must be careful of Rodgers’ arm. This will give the Packers an upper edge that they are not use to having.
#1 Protect Aaron Rodgers
Obviously, the biggest concern and the No. 1 thing Green Bay must do to defeat Chicago is to protect Rodgers. Football fans everywhere saw twice this year on national television what happens to the Packers when they cannot keep their quarterback upright. In a 14-10 loss to the Seattle Seahawks on the “Fail Mary” play on Monday Night Football, Green Bay allowed eight sacks for 39 yards.
Then, in a 38-10 whipping against the New York Giants on Sunday Night Football a few weeks ago, the Packers gave up five sacks for 29 yards. However, the sacks do not tell the entire tale of that game as Rodgers was not once comfortable in the pocket and the pressure clearly did not allow the offense to convert their game plan. Chicago has 33 sacks on the season, five of which came against Green Bay. The Bears know their only chance to beat the Packers is by getting to Rodgers, which means Green Bay must protect him at all costs.