There's something curiously satisfying about a big prime time game at Soldier Field. Unfortunately, it probably means the Bears are relevant--which they are for now, following their surprising upset in Dallas. Imagine how differently the Bears would be perceived right now if Calvin Johnson just tucks in the ball and hands it to the ref.
The Pack is 6-1 in prime time games against the Bears, with the lone loss coming in OT in 2008. Green Bay has outscored Chicago 203-107 in those games...The NFL's oldest rivalry presents meeting number 179 on Monday night.
Obviously the two biggest additions to the Bears are offensive coordinator Mike Martz and defensive end Julius Peppers. The former has Jay Cutler playing with confidence, despite a very shaky offensive line. Martz still likes his QB to take a seven step drop, and he's finding his RBs a lot in the passing game...I expect Dom Capers to present a lot of defensive looks that have not shown up on film yet in the Pack's first two games...Peppers is off to a strong start and provides the premier matchup in this game, perhaps against rookie Bryan Bulaga in his first start at left tackle, against his favorite team growing up.
The Bears feature a ton of speed, if not great hands, at the WR spot. Both Johnny Knox and Devin Hester can fly--this should provide a good test for rookies Sam Shields and Morgan Burnett...This might be another night where A.J. Hawk spends a lot of time holding his helmet. Martz is sure to spread the field with three and four receiver sets and the Pack will be in their nickel and dime packages for much of the game...
Biggest difference for the Bears defensively is the return of Brian Urlacher. Along with the hard-hitting Lance Briggs and the now healthy Pisa Tinoisamoa, the linebackers form the strength of the Bears D. Their secondary remains sub-par with a quickly diminishing Peanut Tillman at corner along with young second year man Zack Bowman. The nickel, DJ Moore, had his first two career picks last week against Tony Romo...With Major Wright out with an injury, Chris Harris steps in at safety--watch for Aaron Rodgers to throw in his direction a lot Monday night.
The last time the Pack and Bears met up with both teams 2-0 was 1962: the Pack won 49-0...Green Bay is 17-7 in NFC North games under Mike McCarthy...Green Bay has appeared on MNF for 18 straight seasons--the longest streak in the NFC. But this is their only appearance of the year.
Random thoughts appear every Thursday at The Head Cheese: The Place for Packer Fans : Head Cheese For the past 15 years, I've hosted "Packer Preview" on KFAN (and kfan.com), the flagship station of the Minnesota Vikings.
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