As everyone knows by now, with the win last week vs Cincinnati, Aaron Rodgers has defeated every team in the NFL, except for the team that drafted him, the Packers. Rodgers goes from a team he has just beaten for the first time, to the team he has played and won the most games against. 14 victories in 18 meeting with their arch-rival Chicago Bears. Thursday night will mark the 195th meeting in the most storied rivalry in football, maybe in sports altogether. A little known fact, in the previous 194 matchups, the all time series record denotes 94 wins for each franchise along with six ties. With a victory on thursday, the Pack could have the advantage in the series for the first time since December of 1932, or since a man by the name of Herbert Hoover was the president of the United States. The Packers and Bears will once again meet before a nationally televised audience, the third straight year on a Thursday night.

Key Matchups:

Bears pass rush vs Packers offensive line

We all know the Packers are not healthy, especially at left and right tackle. The fact that Aaron Rodgers has already been sacked 13 times this season in just three games is worrisome. For the fourth straight week, the Packers will face an opponent with a fast and athletic pass rush. The Bears do not have much to holler about, but pass rush is one of the best the Packers will see all year. Led by Leonard Floyd, Willie Young, and Jerrell Freeman, they have accumulated only seven sacks, but they have faced some great offensive lines to start this year. With the banged up line for Green Bay, the backups will, once again, have to step up and protect Aaron Rodgers, and give him enough time to let him work his magic.

Packers front seven vs Bears running backs

The Packers rush defense is ranked 21st in the league. The Bears rush offense is ranked 8th in the league. On paper this matchup looks to be one sided towards Chicago. Rookie Tarik Cohen has been a huge surprise so far this season, and Jordan Howard is not having a bad season thus far either. Last week against Cincinnati, the defense came up huge late in the game, stopping the Bengals in their tracks. However the front seven, who may be without Mike Daniels, need to slow down the run game if they want to beat Chicago. The linebacking core is full of established veterans who are known for their pass rushing, now it’s time to translate that talent over to the run game and walk out of Lambeau with a win.

Players to Watch:

Offense – Lance Kendricks, Tight End

Last week, Kendricks scored his first touchdown as a Packer, a surreal moment for him, as the Wisconsin native got to partake in his first Lambeau Leap. I would not be surprised if Kendricks reaches the end zone again against the Bears. With starting tight end Martellus Bennett consistently dropping passes, the Packers starting to use more multiple tight end sets, and the overall great play by Kendricks, he should be able to get more opportunity than expected going into the season. Against a Bears defense that is not great defending tight ends, a big game from Kendricks could be in the making.

Defense – Josh Jones, Safety

Jones had an amazing game last week, putting up 12 tackles and two sacks. He also came up big during the Bengals OT drive, adding two open field tackles that would have become first downs if not for his amazing awareness. With the new Nitro formation on defense, that allows Jones to be on the field more. Using him at either his primary position, a safety, or as a linebacker, will be a big help to a defense that has not improved much since last season. If Jones can make a presence on the field like he did against Cincinnati, you can also expect a big game from the rookie.

Score Prediction:

This game will be closer than some might think. If the Bears are able to run the ball effectively, they have an opportunity to control time of possession, and when you are able to control that, your chance of winning goes up.  However, I think the lack of experience will cost Chicago in the end. Also, the high powered Green Bay offense will be too much even for a very athletic Bears defense. Overtime will not be needed in this one, but don’t expect a cakewalk for the Packers either. 27-17 Green Bay.

 

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