Chicago Bears: 6 Most Critical Match-Ups against the Packers
There’s a lot riding on this game Sunday for the Chicago Bears when they take on their rival the Green Bay Packers. To start, if the Bears lose this game the Packers win the division for the second consecutive year. To add insult, the Packers will be winning the division on the Bears home turf in Soldier Field. If it’s one thing the McCaskey’s don’t like it is losing to the Packers; a 2-8 record since 2007 and two franchise defining losses (NFC Championship game and potentially this Sunday) will be a tough pill to swallow for the George McCaskey.
This is head coach Lovie Smith biggest game thus far in his career. After going 7-1 and during that stretch being up two games on the Packers in the division, the Bears have lost four of their last five games and have surrender the division lead to the Packers. If the Bears lose this game, a meltdown could potentially erupt and Smith could lose his job.
Like Smith, it is also a big game for Jay Cutler. Throughout his career as a Bear, Cutler has put up some dismal performances against the Packers including two four interception games against them. Cutler can silence critics with a big performance that leads to a victory.
Big game this Sunday so here’s my six most critical match-ups in this division showdown.
D.J. Moore/Kelvin Hayden vs. Randall Cobb
When Randall Cobb is feature on the outside, Kelvin Hayden will get the assignment on him. It’s a tough match-up for Hayden as Cobb is quicker and faster than the veteran, but Hayden can counter that by being physical with the wide receiver in hopes of frustrating him.
D.J. Moore is likely to get the assignment on Cobb when feature in the slot. Moore ideally is a better match-up physically against Cobb. It’s a game where Moore has a great opportunity to get out of head coach Lovie Smith’s dog house.
Stephen Paea vs. Josh Sitton
Henry Melton is likely out with a chest injury, so the Bears will need someone to step in and make an impact up the middle. The Bears are likely to give Paea more snaps at the three technique position. Rather that is against Josh Sitton who is questionable with a hip injury remains to be seen, but assuming he suits up Paea has to take advantage of limited right guard.
Packers found their running game the past few weeks, so it’s critical for Paea to dominate and keep Sitton and Jeff Saturday off the linebackers.
Corey Wootton vs. Don Barclay
Corey Wootton has been one of the few bright spots on this defense all season; he has improved in his run defense and has regained his quick burst off the edge. He took the starting job away from Israel a few weeks ago, a sign that he might be in line for a second contract. The Bears are going to need Wootton to ramp up the pass protection off the edge against Don Barclay who is starting in place of Bryan Bulaga.
The Packers are going to double team Julius Peppers all day, so the Bears desperately need guys to step up.
Alshon Jeffery vs. Sam Shields
As much as Brandon Marshall wants one-on-one coverage against Tramon Williams and the rest of the Packers cornerbacks, Dom Capers is not going to allow that. I fully expect the Packers to use two-man coverage on Marshall all afternoon and force someone else to beat them. The guy outside of Marshall that is capable of doing that is rookie Alshon Jeffery.
He will more than likely draw the match-up of Sam Shields. Shields is a serviceable corner that loves to walk up to the line and get physical. The 6-3 220 pound Jeffery has the talent to dominate this match-up.
James Brown vs. Jerel Worthy
James Brown played serviceable last week against the Minnesota Vikings. For someone that was just recently on the practice squad, I thought Brown showed a ton of potential at left guard for the Bears. He has the quickness and athleticism to be effective on outside runs, and shows good technique in pass protection (needs to be more consistent in that department).
He draws a tougher match-up this week against fellow rookie Jerel Worthy who has had a solid year for the Packers. Brown can solidify the LG spot with a solid performance Sunday.
J’Marcus Webb vs. Clay Matthews
Clay Matthews was the main culprit behind “shove-gate”. If Mike Tice wants to avoid another altercation with Jay Cutler and J’Marcus Webb, he will give Webb help on Matthews. There’s no way Webb should be seeing that much one-on-one coverage against Matthews like he did in their last meeting.
When Webb does see’s one-on-one coverage against Matthews he can’t afford to have breakdowns mentally and lose the physical battle. Especially considering Cutler will be playing through a sprain MCL most of the afternoon.