…the biggest Packer week since 2001, in my estimation. Not counting last year when the teams played on opening day, or 2008, which was huge for the Bears but the Packers were out of contention.
Green Bay has been the sweetheart Super Bowl Champion pick of many if not most of the “experts,” experts both nationally and locally. Seems that in the NFC, the only other two teams given any chance by the “experts” were the Dallas Cowboys and Minnesota Vikings. Happily, Minnesota is 0-2 and the Bears just embarrassed the other favorite at home last week.
Of course the “experts” won’t lose their love for Green Bay, and have the Packers favored by 3 over the Bears, which is really by 6 given the Bears are at home.
The theme that continues to replay in my head this week is simply, tell me why the Bears can’t win this game? I’m not ready to say they will win this game, but tell me why they can’t.
Granted, Aaron Rodgers has been a great quarterback since taking over in 2008. And I’m actually happy for him–the man endured a lot of abuse and disrespect (including me) from the day he was drafted and has proven everyone wrong. So as a human, I’m happy for the guy. (As a Bears fan, I hate his guts of course).
Sophomore linebacker Clay Matthews III is scary good, no doubt. Six sacks in two games is nearly unprecedented. But let’s keep in mind, three of those sacks came against the Buffalo Bills. No pass rusher in NFL history has kept up Matthews’ pace in three games, so let’s not go overboard. The Bears, despite their questionable offensive line, have done a good job at slowing down the opposing rush by adjusting their playcalling to it. So before anyone predicts another three sacks for Matthews, let’s see how it goes.
Yes, Charles Woodson is still one of the best corners in the NFL. But Green Bay lost their other solid corner, Al Harris, last season. Teams can run on the Packers-they’re 28th at stopping the run. Their offensive line is suspect and will be starting rookie Bryan Bulaga at left tackle for the very first time against Julius Peppers. And their starting running back rushed for less than 30 yards last week.
I had to rub my eyes before I saw this–the Bears are fifth overall in offense, third in passing offense. They are the #1 defense in the NFL stopping the run. Yes, they’re 27th in passing defense, but newsflash, that’s how Lovie Smith’s defense has always worked. If they stop the run completely and force turnovers, which they have, they can allow teams to throw for 400 yards and win games. That’s exactly what happened last week and it seems like the Cowboy win wasn’t as close as the scoreboard indicated.
Last week every national and local prognosticator picked Dallas to beat the snot out of Chicago. I can’t gloat because I didn’t believe the Bears would win either. I’m just predicting that again, at least every single national “expert” will pick Green Bay, because the Packers are their sweetheart team and they won’t be able to stand being wrong about them.
I’ve been scared to believe in the Bears since about week 4 of the 2007 season. But I’m starting to believe.