CHICAGO @ GREEN BAY
A great quarterback can make an average team competitive. See the example of the Carolina Panthers last year, or what we think has happened to the Denver Broncos this year. Aaron Rodgers does a lot to keep the Green Bay Packers competitive, but he can only do so much. After the Packers earned home field advantage in 2011 and then were unceremoniously dumped from the playoffs by the New York Giants, thoughts were that Green Bay had to improve in certain areas, particularly their defense. Cut to Week One of the 2012 season and the problems don't appear to be fixed. Instead they appear to be amplified. The Packers offense managed 45 total rushing yards Week One. Out of their 21 first downs, only two were achieved by ground. In addition, they lost wide receiver Greg Jennings to a groin injury and he is unlikely to play. The defense gave up 377 yards of offense, over 186 of which came on the ground. Enter the new Chicago Bears receiving group, comprised of Brandon Marshall and rookie Alshon Jeffrey, both over 6’3” and both over 215 pounds. However, they’re the second course of the Bear’s offensive menu, as Matt Forte provides not only strong rushing power, but above-average receiving skills as well. The good news for Green Bay is that in the four seasons Forte has been in the league, Green Bay has lost to Chicago only twice, and Matt Forte has never registered a 100 rushing yards in a game versus the Packers and has scored only one touchdown against them, back in his rookie season of 2008. In terms of game plans, Green Bay will attempt to again remove Forte from the equation by attacking quickly and attempting to take a lead.
|Randall Cobb caught nine passes Week 1|
The Bears secondary of Chris Conte, Chris Jennings, Major Wright, and Charles Tillman (questionable with a shin) will see the ball flying all over the place, with Jordy Nelson and Jermichael Finley playing key roles. James Jones will start in Jennings’ place, but Randall Cobb becomes a nice sleeper play this week, as he becomes the only true slot man they have, and his speed and ability to turn the big play is likely to be utilized. He already has nine receptions this year. Once they have the lead, Cedric Benson will get his share of attempts as Tom Clements and Mike McCarthy attempt to develop their running game. Behind Green Bay’s lackluster line blocking, I don’t see more than 50 yards and maybe a one yard plunge. I also believe the Bears will do more than simply use Forte to keep Rodgers off the field. They’ll want to jump in front, and then use their solid running game to bleed the clock. Forte should give you easily over 100 all purpose yards, but if history tells you anything, expect Green Bay to do all they can to keep him out of the end zone. Brandon Marshall’s success against Tramon Williams will determine the outcome of this game for the Bears, as well as their defense. It should be a high scoring affair. The Packers need this one, and I’m taking them at home.
PACKERS 35, BEARS 31