Relax, Rodgers Will R-E-S-P-O-N-DPosted:Sep 26th, 2014 5:14 pm
As the Packers take a nosedive down the NFL power rankings, they know that if they can take care of business at their home away from home, Soldier Field, they will finish the first quarter a respectable 2-2 with a favorable schedule staring them in the face.
Aaron Rodgers' ballyhooed "R-E-L-A-X" comments aimed at Packer fans should do nothing but make you feel like he's got this. After all, he always seems to respond, just as the Packers have after 1-2 starts the past two years. Now, no Packer team under Rodgers has started 1-3, so let's hope he knows what he's talking about.
Rodgers and the Pack have won their last four games at Soldier Field, most recently last year's season finale thriller that won the division. That puts the Pack at 9-2 in their last 11 games against the Bears--Jay Cutler seems to save his worst games for the green and gold.
The Bears come off a big Monday night road win, but they're banged up, particularly in the secondary and on the offensive line. Charles Tillman's season ending injury has opened the door for impressive rookie Kyle Fuller, but it has zapped their depth chart. Both safeties were injured in the Jets win, though it looks like both will try to give it a shot.
For the Packers to re-establish some sense of their place in the division, it begins with the run game. The Bears do not defend the run well and there should be big opportunities for Eddie Lacy to finally get untracked. If he does, Rodgers will look like a new man, with play action back in his arsenal. Look for the Bears to begin the game in the same two high look that the Lions displayed, with coverage tilted towards Jordy Nelson. The Packers can exploit it in the middle of the defense--it wouldn't be a bad time for Brandon Bostick to make his first regular season appearance.
The defense should have Clay Matthews, who's listed as probable after practicing all week (in a limited fashion) with his strained groin. Couple that with Julius Peppers' obvious motivation and the Pack should make life difficult for Jay Cutler, who's beaten the Packer a grand total of one time. The defense was impressive against the Lions, with Jamari Lattimore settling in at inside linebacker and Datone Jones appearing much more comfortable every time he plays.
The Bears will try to establish their own running game, as Matt Forte has been grumbling about a lack of opportunities. Couple that with their banged up receiver corps and you can bet their recipe for a win is a more balanced offense that controls the clock and keeps the hungry Rodgers off the field.
It might surprise some to see that the Packers are one point favorites in this one, considering their slow start and the Bears' two consecutive wins on the road. But Chicago is coming off a short week and the Packers are the more desperate team, they're healthier and they have a lot of recent success at Soldier Field, which should make them a relatively confident bunch.
Rodgers delivers and Packer fans relax.
Packers 27 Bears 23