Saturday Sep 25

A Closer Look at the Chicago Bears

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Packers vs Bears, Week 3 2010Overview 

Out of all the surprise teams this season, the Bears seem to be the most impressive of the bunch with a convincing victory over the Cowboys last weekend. Lovie Smith's group has overcome question marks at defensive back, wide receiver and on the offensive line and looks to continue their success on Monday against the Packers. 

"Lovie Smith" and "Packers" in the same sentence only reminds me of Smith's burning desire to beat the inner-division rivals each and every time he plays them. 

The Bears were swept by the Packers in 2009, with both losses coming in close, hard-fought games. This leads me to believe that Smith comes out firing on Monday, in a heated, prime-time atmosphere. 

Something to keep in mind for this game is that special teams may not be what the Bears are relying upon to win, for once. The monsters of the midway suddenly have some spark on the offensive side of the ball this year, something the Packers have been unaccustomed to seeing in recent years. 

On Offense 

Talk about a turnaround on Jay Cutler's pass-happy offense. Mike Martz appears to be working his magic in an offense full of young, raw talent. Most importantly, Cutler has only thrown one interception, which may or may not have been his fault. 

Before we give too much credit to the receivers, we should note that Cutler's favorite receiver thus far has been Matt Forte coming out of the backfield. Still, Cutler has done a good job taking care of the football with only mediocre pass protection. Five touchdowns and 649 yards through the air over two games hint at a continued commitment to the passing game by the Bears going forward. The Bears will have to lean on Cutler's arm for now, with nothing more than a pedestrian ground game of late. 

Both Matt Forte and Chester Taylor have yet to get things going in the running game, both averaging under three yards per carry. That's unfortunate for the Bears, who would love to exploit what's been a poor Packers run defense this season. Instead, the Bears will look for a modest offensive line to hold up against Dom Capers' bag of tricks. 

On Defense 

The Bears feature a defense almost completely opposite of last week's opponent, the Buffalo Bills. While the Bills' defense is more than stingy versus the pass, the Bears' front seven is more than stout against the run. With Brian Urlacher back from injury, all the defense has done in the first two weeks is stopped the run. The unit held explosive rookie Jahvid Best to 20 yards on 14 carries in Week 1 and a powerful Dallas backfield to 36 yards last week. 

The secondary is surely a work in progress, but defensive coordinator Ron Marinelli may be able to hide some of its flaws by issuing constant pressure via Julius Peppers. It's not like the Bears haven't been tested on defense during the first two weeks of the season. They've faced playmakers such as Calvin Johnson, Jahvid Best, Miles Austin and Felix Jones. 

Despite a controversial touchdown catch to Johnson that was overturned, the Bears have held up quite well against these names. With a plethora of playmakers coming into town, it will be interesting to see how the Bears' exploitable secondary adjusts. With a lack of playmaking ability in the Packers' backfield, the Bears can shift their attention to down-the-field threats, Greg Jennings and Jermichael Finley.

Worth Noting

  • Jay Cutler threw a combined six interceptions against the Packers in 2009 
  • Matt Forte has 188 yards receiving yards in two games, more than Greg Jennings and Donald Driver's totals combined 
  • Julius Peppers is expected to move back and forth between left and right defensive end 
  • The last time the Packers and Bears met on Monday Night Football was in 2008, when the Bears won in OT after blocking what would have been a game-winning field goal by Mason Crosby

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