Line: Packers -4.5 | Over/Under: 51
Bears injuries: CB Charles Tillman (questionable), LB Brian Urlacher (probable)
Packers injuries: CB Davon House, WR Greg Jennings, RB James Starks (doubtful)
Why to watch: This is the 185th matchup between these bitter NFC North rivals (the Bears hold a 92-86-6 edge). The Bears improved their offence quite a bit in the offseason, and it should allow them to hang with the high-octane Packers attack and make for a high-scoring contest.
Life without Jennings: Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers may be without his favourite target in wideout Greg Jennings. It will be up to Jordy Nelson, Randall Cobb, James Jones, and tight end Jermichael Finley to pick up the slack if Jennings isn’t able to suit up.
Cutler’s chirp: Bears quarterback Jay Cutler seems confident his squad will break out of their four-game slump against the Pack, even going as far as inviting Green Bay’s secondary to be aggressive and press his receivers. He wished Charles Woodson — who will be playing a lot more safety this season — and company "good luck" earlier this week. It’s clear Cutler has the utmost confidence in the 6-foot-5 Brandon Marshall and the 6-foot-3 Alshon Jeffery, who will tower over the Packers DB’s.
What have you done for me lately?: Cutler has gone 1-7 against the Packers since he was traded to the Bears in April of 2009, throwing seven touchdowns and 11 interceptions in those contests. Cutler has eclipsed an 80+ passer rating just once in those games, his lone win in September 2010.
The Bears: The Cutler-to-Marshall connection looks to be back and in fine form. Cutler targeted Marshall 15 times against the Colts, and the receiver finished with nine catches for 119 yards and a touchdown. The Packer may pay serious attention to Marshall, opening a window for Jeffery to make some more plays. Running back Matt Forte voice his displeasure about Michael Bush stealing some of his goal-line carries vs. Indy, so keep an eye on how that situation play out.
The Packers: With Jennings’ health being so uncertain, a lot of eyes will be on Nelson and Cobb. Nelson led the Packers when Jennings missed the final three games of the 2011 season, but it now looks like Cobb is becoming a more important part of the offence. Cobb was the Packers’ lone impact player in Week 1, so it wouldn’t be a surprise to see him play an even bigger role Thursday night.
The last thing Rodgers and the Packers want to do is fall to 0-2 on the season and fall two games back of the Bears in the NFC North. If there is such a thing a must win game this early in the season, this is it. Thanks to the addition of Marshall the Bears offense looks unlike anything we’ve seen in decades: they actually have a vertical passing game.
Offense isn’t the issue with the Packers; it’s defense. Defensive coordinator Dom Capers has a lot on his plate. Going back to last season the Packers defense has allowed 10 passing touchdowns the last three games. The Packers offense was so good last year that there were able to get away with it, until the playoffs.
Cutler and the re-built Bears offense can score points in a variety of ways now. If the Packers defense can’t figure out a way to neutralize Marshall that will put even more pressure on Rodgers to outscore yet another opponent. That means the Packers secondary needs to be better to give them a chance to win.