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Bears Thu Nov 13 2008
As the few flurries this week and the piles of dead leaves showing up on the side streets of Chicago indicate fall is slowly bleeding into winter and with those indicators of the mercury, indeed, dropping for the season; inexorably, the divisional title chases are heating up in the NFL. In no division is this season of chase more competitive than in the Bears home division of the NFC North, the Bears and Vikings are tied for first, while the Green Bay Packers are a mere game behind in the win column. And lo! if those same green and yellow clad 'Sconnies aren't hosting your Chicago Bears this weekend in a must-win for the Pack and a "should-win" for the Bears. According to fans on both sides, Packers v Bears is more than a mere clash of divisional foes, both squads are in the top 5 in all-time victories, more often than not the winner of the twice-a-season clash claims the crown. Granted, over the course of the past decade the rivalry has lost some luster with the Packers being dominant as the Bears struggled and vice-versa; and yet, here we sit in Week 11 of the NFL season and this weekend's clash at Lambeau Field will have a direct impact on the chase for the division title and the coveted playoff berth. The Packers, after dropping to Minnesota last weekend, simply must win this game to keep up with their neighbors. For the Monsters of the Midway, winning this game is another step towards reclaiming the NFC North crown and getting back to where they were in 2006, ie: a deep playoff run.
What to Watch For:
For the Bears on offense the Packers should expect a heavy dose of Matt Forte and short, play-action passes from Sexy Rexy or NeckBeard. Green Bay's secondary is extremely athletic and opportunistic, aka: passes that enter their flight space are intercepted like a U2 spy plane in Soviet Russia's atmosphere. Meanwhile, the knuckle-dragging, run first, run second, run last, Bears offense will do what it does best and caveman their way to points. Seriously, we're talking 1 if by land and 2 if by land for the Bears O; particularly if Grossman is behind center but even if NeckBeard is back, don't count on anything besides, like I said, some short play-action passes to keep the Packers a little off balance.
On defense expect the Bears to manage against Aaron Rogers, who's production has dropped as more and more teams have seen him play and come to know what to expect. The threat for Chicago's defense is if Ryan Grant begins running the ball well and finding holes in the defensive line and penetrates to the second level of defenders. All season the defense has struggled with staying on the field too much, see: @ Carolina, Tampa, @ Atlanta, Tennessee; and that problem has been a symptom of power running attacks mixed with proficient passing on the opposition's part; which GB could do.
The Bears are Winning/Losing by Too Many, What Else Is On?
The Bears/Packers tilt should be the best-early game this Sunday and for the late game there are two very intriguing AFC matchups to pick from. In one corner you've got San Diego v. Pittsburgh and in the other corner you have got unbeaten Tennessee traveling down to conference rival, Jacksonville. For my money and entertainment value, I like Titans taking their undefeated record to Jville and seeing what happens there. I pick the Jaguars to upset the Titans.
The one game (besides whoever Detroit is playing) you want to avoid would be: St. Louis @ San Francisco, seriously, both teams are 2-7! Gimme a break, even if you're a fan of these two teams, take the weekend off and get some much needed sunshine to combat Seasonal Affective Disorder.