At this point, everyone knows what is at stake tomorrow afternoon; a NFC North, winners take all, playoff berth that features the oldest rivalry in the pro football. This is for all the marbles! Here are some of the keys to a Packers victory:
- Packers Running Game vs. the Bears Defense– From the sounds of it, Eddie Lacy will be good to go and the pair of him and James Starks has to be licking their chops going against this Bears defense. The Bears defense is ranked last in the NFL in rush defense while the Packers sport the 7th ranked rush offense. A lot of the attention will be on Aaron Rodgers returning but the running game is where the Packers need to dominate if they want to leave Chicago with a victory.
- Jay Cutler vs. Dom Capers- Here is one match up that Capers has dominated in the past. While this is a different offense then the Bears have ran in the past, one has to hope that the Packers Defensive Coordinator can get to Cutler once again. Jay Cutler is coming off a game when he laid a complete egg and wants nothing more than to quiet his critics by beating the Packers. Can Capers get pressure to Cutler like he has in the past? Will Cutler make any mistakes whether it be a bad read, interception or fumble? Turnovers will be a huge part of this game and Capers has been able to get to Cutler in the past, can he again?
- Packers Secondary vs. Bears Wide Receivers- Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffrey make up one of the best wide receiver duos in the NFL and make a tough match up for the Packer secondary. Both are big, strong and have amazing hands and can cause any defense problems. Add into this the struggles of Packers secondary and you have what appears to be a huge mismatch. Tramon Williams and Sam Shields have been playing much improved in the recent weeks and need to play their best game to date to help the Packers win. Jeffrey and Marshall will be tough to keep in check but limiting the big plays will be key.
- Matt Forte vs. the Packers Defense- Matt Forte is the do everything back for the Bears and keeping him contained is key. The Eagles were able to slow down Forte last week which equaled numerous 3 and outs and some bad decisions by Jay Cutler. The front 7 of the Packers has to not only cause pressure but keep Forte contained. Like the wide receivers, Forte will get his yards but limiting the big plays will be a huge. The Packers will need big games out of both B.J. Raji and Mike Daniels to help keep the Bears running game in check. Additionally, all of the Packers defenders have to make the initial tackles to help prevent the big plays. The defense knows what’s on the line, now it’s to perform.
- Packers O-line vs. the Bears D-Line- While always an important key, keeping Aaron Rodgers upright this week has an heightened importance. Rodgers going to find the turf at some point, but limiting the Bears from getting clean hits or constant pressure is very important. Besides protecting Rodgers, opening up running lanes for Lacy and Starks is a must. That opens up the play action for Rodgers and potential big plays. Keeping the Bears defense on the field not only wears them out but keeps the Packers defense fresh. The O-line has played will this season and needs another solid game for the Packers to win.
- Aaron Rodgers- Matt Flynn stepped in and played some very good football to help the Packers be in the position they are in right now, a chance to win the division. But, there is no doubt about who is the Packers leader is and he is back! Rodgers hasn’t played since the Bears knocked him out back in early November and he is ready to exact revenge. Nothing would be sweeter then for Rodgers to have a huge game and lead the Packers to the NFC North title, but it probably won’t be that simple. He hasn’t played in close to 8 weeks so the possibility he will be really hyped up is there along with some timing issues. Rodgers has played in bigger games with bigger stakes, but this is a new situation since he is coming back from injury. Will he be ready? Can he shake off the rust?
There is no doubt the Packers and Bears will be ready to go. Both teams have earned the right to be in the place both by their own plays and the help of others. Here is to hoping that when the dust settles, the Packers are NFC North Champs! Go Pack Go!!
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