Week 2 of the NFL season is quickly upon us as the NFL introduces their first season with a weekly Thursday-night game. This week, a divisional showdown between the Packers and Bears should bring fireworks between these heated rivals and could carry much weight come playoff time in 2013.
Not much has seemingly changed for Green Bay since last season, at least that’s what Week 1 told us. The Packers were again formidable at moving the football against a top defense in San Francisco, but their defense looked as soft as it’s ever been. Alex Smith carved up Green Bay through the air, while the Packers were simply dominated in the trenches, losing all the key battles along the line of scrimmage. Against a tough Chicago side, these trends must be remedied or else the Packers’ slow start will certainly continue.
Chicago meanwhile is an upstart team and enter this pivotal clash seeing it as a huge opportunity. After watching the 49ers knock off Green Bay in the fortress that is supposed to be Lambeau Field, the Bears enter a confident team that is certainly dangerous enough to exploit the glaring holes this Green Bay team possesses. The Bears have been plagued by inconsistency in the past however, and will certainly have to be at their absolute finest come Thursday evening if they are to deal Green Bay back-to-back home losses.
Bears vs. Packers Spread and Betting Odds:
Chicago Bears +5 (-110)
@ Green Bay Packers -5 (-110)
Over 51.5 (-110)
Under 51.5 (-110)
Betting odds taken from Bovada.lv
Bears vs. Packers Pick:
Simply put, the Packers were embarrassed and humbled by San Francisco on Sunday. They were eviscerated on defense and exposed on national television. This isn’t good news for an upstart Bears side. The Packers have to be as motivated as ever and though it seem premature to throw the term “must-win” out in Week 2 of the NFL season, it’s exactly that for this Green Bay team. It seems simply but each team only gets eight home games each season, and for the Packers to commence their campaign losing two in a row, with a tough game in Seattle on the horizon, would be unthinkable.
Certainly the Packers didn’t need any extra incentive entering this massive clash, but that’s exactly what they got Tuesday when Bears quarterback Jay Cutler opened his mouth wishing the Green Bay defense “Good Luck,” at trying to stop his high-flying Bears attack.
Despite the Packers’ apparent defensive deficiencies in Week 1, it’s clear that San Francisco is one of the premier teams in the NFL. Though the Packers looked lost on defense this past Sunday, cornerback Charles Woodson vows that his team is a good defense, and will be much improved Thursday evening. There were positives for this maligned Green Bay defense though. They did sack Alex Smith four times on Sunday, a number that could go up against a shaky Bears offensive line, while being stellar on 3rd down only allowing San Francisco to convert two out of nine times. And though reservations still remain about this defense, the unit knows the magnitude of this match-up and simply cannot be as bad as they were on Sunday.
Additionally, over the years the Packers have proven to be opportunistic on defense, securing many turnovers and interceptions. They led the league last season with 31 and have picked off Cutler 12 times in their last six meetings. Expect the Packers to pressure a weakened Bears’ offensive line and hurry Cutler into making poor decisions from the pocket.
Green Bay is likely going to be without star receiver Greg Jennings in this contest, but the depth of this team runs deep at the skill positions, and look for Randall Cobb and James Jones to both post impressive outings in his absence.
Historically, Green Bay and Aaron Rodgers have dominated this match-up, often shredding Lovie Smith’s Cover-2 defense. Jeremichael Finley has flourished against Chicago in years past and is primed for a big game. With the onus on the Packers to turn in an impressive performance, expect history to repeat itself Thursday evening. This is the same defense that last December allowed Aaron Rodgers to throw for a staggering five touchdowns, and while duplicating that would be impressive, Rodgers is a pressure player and will thrive under the lights on national television.
At the start of the season, Green Bay to only be laying a miniscule five points at home on a standalone Thursday night game would be absurd against nearly any team in the league. The Bears are an improved bunch and should be in this year’s playoffs, but aren’t ready to win this type of game against a very motivated Green Bay opponent. It seems as if public perception has severely downgraded Green Bay on the basis of their first game. Sure they didn’t look that great, but the Bears too looked iffy at home against an awful Colts squad. People seem keen to overreact on what remains a formidable Green Bay squad. They’re still a legitimate Super Bowl contender, and in as close to a do-or-die game as there is in September, expect a statement from the savvy Packers.
Expect a tightly-played affair with ultimately the desperate home side prevailing. Though most instantly assume the Over is the right play here due to the potency of both offenses, tread carefully as rain is in the forecast, as is a steady dose of the Bears’ bruising run game.
One intriguing trend to note entering this contest is that since 1989 the home team on Thursday night games is an impressive 65-46 against the spread, hitting at a rate of 59%. Shortened weeks and not having to travel always seems to benefit the home team in this spot. Additionally, Green Bay has covered three straight games against the Bears and look for more of the same at Lambeau Field Thursday night.
PICK = Packers -5 (-110)