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Bears Thu Sep 13 2012
I can't put it any simpler than this: NFL football on Thursday night sucks.
I'm not talking about the games played on Thanksgiving afternoon and evening. Those games are the country's reward for winning the battle over grandma's turkey and stuffing during dinner. They're the American Dream of football.
Then Roger Goodell and the powers that be in the league office decided Thursday night football should become an every week tradition instead of just a few weeks late in the season. Sure, it's great for the people with ADD that can't wait five and a half days between Monday Night Football and the noon kicks the following Sunday, but it's awful for any football fan that wants to have a life. It's also terrible for anyone in competitive (re: pay) fantasy leagues. Having to lock in players on Thursday is brutal if you have a questionable star player you'd rather activate on Sunday, but can't risk passing up a sure starter. And don't even get me started on the games being on the NFL Network...
But those reasons are nothing compared to players and coaches hating it. Thursday games provide little time to recover, prepare, and travel if you happen to be the away team (re: Bears). Lovie Smith couldn't allow his players to have Monday off like they typically get after wins because the team couldn't afford to lose one of its three prep days. Charles Tillman and Brian Urlacher, who would normally have a couple of practice days remaining to get ready for a Sunday game are questionable for tonight, though they'll probably both play.
Despite being the away team, the Bears had quite possibly the biggest advantage a team can have coming into a short week: an easy opponent the previous Sunday. Even though they won't admit it, Bears coaches had begun planning for the Packers prior to the game against the Colts because a game against a divisional rival is far more important when it comes to tiebreakers and playoff berths. Plus, the Colts were so bad, the staff simply could afford themselves time to prepping for Green Bay without hurting their chances last Sunday.
The Packers, coming off a beat-down loss delivered by San Francisco at Lambeau Field might be a team on the brink early in the season. If the Packers fall to 0-2, a division title, or a playoff berth for that matter, could be difficult to ascertain with only six home games and a tough schedule remaining. The Bears would certainly take control of the race considering how the Lions looked at home against the punchless Rams last weekend. That's a lot of pressure for a short week.
If Tillman is held out of the game to recover from his shin injury, the Bears will be awfully thin at corner, with Kelvin Hayden making the jump to the starting lineup in his place. If Greg Jennings (listed as doubtful) is unable to play for the Packers though, the loss will be slightly less impactful, but still tough because of Peanut's ability to force turnovers.
If Jay Cutler can sling the football around like he did in the final 45 minutes of the Colts game, it's hard to see the Bears losing. The Packers defense looked highly suspect against Alex Smith and the 49ers, and the receiving corps in Chicago is far superior to what San Francisco had to offer (I just reread that sentence and am giddy that it's actually true).
A short week and nicked up veterans on defense could be problematic for the Bears - but they have a unique opportunity to deal a serious blow to the Packers division title hopes if they can sneak out of Wisconsin with a victory. Did I also mention that they're playing at Lambeau Field, and Cutler is 1-6 in his career against the Packers? But look at the bright side. He's only 0-1 against them when he has Brandon Marshall to throw to.