Packers vs. Bears: Three things I'll be watching for
Just 96 hours after losing the season opener to the San Francisco 49ers, the Green Bay Packers will line up against the division rival Chicago Bears at Lambeau Field
Below are three things I'll be watching for in this 185th meeting of the two teams:
Mike McCarthy was not accepting of the 2.0 yards per carry averaged by Cedric Benson against the 49ers. Benson had 9 attempts on the afternoon against perhaps the most stout defense in the NFL. What I'll be watching to see is how much more effective Benson can be against a quality Bears defense. The Packers don't need 100 yards rushing from Benson to win the game, but they need his yards per carry average to be more like 3.5-4.0.
Big Plays in the Passing Game
I need to give ESPN's NFC North blogger Kevin Seifert the credit for this one. In a recent blog entry, Seifert accurately pointed out that Aaron Rodgers is 1-3 in his last 4 starts (including the playoffs). The other fact of the matter is that the Packers downfield passing attack has sunk to the absolute bottom of the NFL rankings. In other words, no other team is having more trouble being explosive on offense than the Packers.
CLICK HERE to read more. It's a though-provoking piece.
What I'll be watching for is to see how many chances the Packers take against a defense that is designed to take away the deep ball. Without Greg Jennings in the lineup (groin), expect Donald Driver to have a more prominent role in the game.
The Marshall Plan
For the first time since...I don't know...Willie Gault...the Bears will bring a game-changing wide receiver into Green Bay. Marshall stands 6'4" / 230. He dwarfs the Packers defensive backs. Both Marshall and Jay Cutler have welcomed the Packers to challenge Marshall at the line of scrimmage. The Packers aren't that dumb. What I'll be watching to see is how often the Packers bracket cover Marshall, and how often he is isolated against Tramon Williams.
Other things to watch are:
- How often the Packers front is able to penetrate the Bears suspect offensive line?
- How much has the Packers run defense improved in three days of film study and practice?
- Can anybody aside of Clay Matthews or Charles Woodson record a sack?
- Will their be more "miscommunication" with the safeties in the Packers defensive backfield? It's not getting much play, but I believe the Packers inexperienced safeties are a liability.