Do the Bears Have the Blueprint to Beat Rodgers and the Packers Sunday?

Packers QB Aaron Rodgers is still basking in the glory of one of the greatest playoff performances in the history of the world. Only 5 of his 36 passes hit the turf against Atlanta, and he complied 366 yards and 4 TDs (1 rushing) against the number-one seeded Falcons…on their home field.

The performance impressed Mike Ditka enough that he proclaimed on ESPN’s Sunday NFL Countdown it was “the best individual playoff performance” he’d seen in his 50+ years around football. That’s high praise coming from a Hall of Famer who gained legendary status making life miserable for the Packers as a player and coach.

So while Rodgers assumes Mike Vick’s place as the league’s “IT” player of the moment, you’ll have to forgive Lovie Smith and his defensive players if they’re not shaking in their jockstraps at the thought of facing A-Rod.

Rodgers’ impressive numbers in Atlanta came against a mediocre defense in a setting protected from the outdoor elements. As recently as two weeks ago, Lovie’s boys made ‘the Chosen One’ look mortal in a low-scoring game on Rodgers’ home field. The Pack only managed 10 points and Rodgers had as many INTs and TDs (uno).

There’s no reason to believe Brian Urlacher and his mates won’t have similar success on Sunday. Here’s why…

1) The Bears’ defensive scheme

The Bears’ Cover-2 defense will force Rodgers to be patient, and big plays will be hard to come by. Safeties Chris Harris, Danieal Manning and Major Wright will help on deep coverage, diminishing the explosive potential of Mike McCarthy’s outside receiving threats – Jennings, Driver, Jones and Nelson.

And without the threat of injured TE Jermichael Finley, who he had at his disposal in his earlier trip to Soldier Field, Rodgers loses that fast, big body that can outrun Urlacher to the deep middle of the field. That will free up #54 to help on underneath routes and in run support, where his athleticism is almost like having a third-safety on the field at all times.

While the Bears played hard (and to win) in their regular season finale against a desperate Pack team fighting for a playoff berth, they didn’t show their entire defensive hand. Yet they still managed to corral the high-scoring Green Bay offense.

With his familiarity of the opponent, look for Lovie to stick to the scheme but make enough tweaks (like blitzes, mixed man-to-man coverages) to force Rodgers and Co. into driving the length of the field.

2) Lack of running game

The Bears lead the NFC in rushing defense, allowing only 90 yards per game. So Rodgers won’t have the benefit of a productive run game. Instead, the responsibility of beating the ‘underdog’ Bears will rest almost entirely on his right arm.

While Packers rookie James Starks (whom the Bears nearly drafted last year) had a 100-yard rushing day against the Eagles, he’ll be lucky to halve that yardage against the Bears.

None of the Packers’ RBs averages anywhere close to 4 yards per carry. While Mike McCarthy will stay dedicated to running attempts, yards will be hard to come by on the ground.

The Seahawks, with their more impressive trio of running backs – including Marshawn Lynch, Leon Washington and Justin Forsett – were held to a combined 20 rushing yards. Of course, falling behind by 21 points in the 1st half didn’t help their cause either.

Making the Packers offense one dimensional will allow Lovie the luxury of having 1) his defensive backfield sit in their zones, 2) free up the D-line to rush Rodgers and 3) bring occasional blitz pressure from the middle (Urlacher, Lance Briggs) or the outside (from nickelback DJ Moore).

3) Poor field conditions

The playing surface at Soldier Field will be drastically different than anything the Packers have seen this year…and that includes the sod they played on in Chicago back in September. Cold temps (early forecast calls for the 10s with no precip) and a chewed-up turf will make life miserable for Packers wide receivers.

One little stumble by Jennings and crew could be the difference between a Packers first down or a turnover. The Bears on the other hand, have played on the league’s worst field for the last month.

With two playoff road wins this year and 10 TD tosses in his first 3 postseason games (including last year’s high-scoring loss to the Cardinals), Rodgers is quickly approaching the upper echelon of NFL QBs. I think he’s surpassed Rivers and Brees and only has to look upward at Brady, Peyton and Big (Turdbag) Ben.

But come Sunday in Chicago, some old friends in blue and orange are eager to make him look like Average Joe.


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10 Responses to “Do the Bears Have the Blueprint to Beat Rodgers and the Packers Sunday?”

  1. JB says:

    This is nice piece of analysis. I just roll my eyes at the people claiming to know for certain that the Packers will undoubtedly steamroll the Bears on Sunday.

    Yet they always neglect one important detail in their analysis: The Packers had two cracks at the Bears in the regular season – including a game in which they had EVERYTHING on the line and the Bears had NOTHING riding on the outcome – and the Packers still couldn’t manage more than 17 points vs. the Bears in either game. In fact, the best they could manage is a 7-point win on their home turf in the aforementioned huge game, in a game in which they should have in no way held anything back.

    The Pack may destroy the Bears on Sunday; no one can say for certain they won’t. But if they are so good, and the Bears so inferior, why haven’t they done it yet?

    • Erin says:

      The first game both teams were not the same teams they are today, with the pack having so many penalties, so I think it’s hard to compare both teams based on THAT game, plus that was so long ago. If the packers played that day like they played against Atlanta on Saturday, I think that would have been a completely different game. And there’s a good possibility it could have turned out the same way if the bears played the way they have been playing lately, since they’ve clearly improved throughout the season.

      I agree it will be a good game, however, based on the Chicago games I have watched, Cutler can sometimes be unpredictable depending on each game, so I think that is why people are saying the Packers COULD kill the bears. However, Sunday showed that Cutler has not let his first playoff appearance get to him, so if he comes to the game playing like that, it should be a good game.

      I also think the bears need to prepare for the packer defense, because Cutler got beat up last game with 6 sacks, and the offensive line needs to work on that. If they can manage that it will be a very close game because the bears offense has gotten so much better, as was proved on sunday. Also, the bears need to shut down the passing game of the pack. We all know the packers will not be able to run the ball against the bears defense, but the passing game is what will really make the difference, and if Rodgers is in the same zone he was in on Saturday, it could be hard for the bears to cover that.

      It will definitely be good game, no doubt about that. I think both sides should be nervous, because it can really go either way.

    • DarwinsMyth says:

      So, you talk like the Atlanta Falcons didn’t have a very good defense, contributing to the Packers’ blowout? The Falcons gave up only 2 points more than the Bears in the regular season.

      You asked, why haven’t the Packers’ blown out the Bears, yet, if they can do it? Be careful what you ask for. Nobody blew out the Falcons, who was the #1 seed, and at home, until the Packers did it.

      The Bears only hope, is that their alleged strategy of not fixing the field with new sod for Sunday’s game will hinder the Packers’ pass rush and blitzing. If it doesn’t matter, it’ll be a long day for Cutler.

      Packers 30 Bears 13

  2. RW says:

    Good analysis.

    JB – I’ve not seen anyone of legitimate credibility saying the Pack ‘will undoubtedly steamroll the Bears on Sunday’. In the NFL – any team has a chance to beat any team, on any given day.

    I don’t put as much stock in the ‘the Bears had nothing to play for / the Packers had everything to play for’ argument as most Bear’s fans have been quick to argue. NFL teams don’t approach games that they want to win (and the Bears certainly made it clear they wanted to win their final game of the season), with ‘let’s try to win..but we’ll only give it 75% and see what that gets us.’ They may have had NOTHING riding on the outcome – but their approach to the game & the fact they wanted to win it – nullifies that point (almost) completely. What’s changed? The Packers still have EVERYTHING on the line…and the Bears still want to win the game.

    No one is saying the Bears are completely inferior – you’re saying that to place the Bears in the underdog/rudy category. Chicago is the #2 seed…playing at home…the Bears should be favored…they should be expected to win; but they’re not – because the Packers are simply a more talented football team.

    That said – talent alone doesn’t win Championships. So – if you’re going to cite the most important factor in the whole situation – Soldier Field having horrible turf conditions is what Bears fans should praise and be proud of / take stock in. Horrible conditions and the familiarity with playing on them – is definitely an advantage.

    Congrats on having the worst turf conditions in the league – with no immediate plans to improve them. It may just give us all what the world desperately needs – another Super Bowl Shuffle. Please..if there is any higher power in this universe…the Bears should be denied, simply based on that horrible piece of history.

    Go Pack.

    • LW says:

      I totally agree with you. There is also a large difference between winning and beating yourself which is exactly what happened in the first meeting of these two teams. This rivalry is long winded and should provide a really great match up come Sunday.

      I am a Packers fan so I know which way I want it to go but it truly is anyone’s game.

      GO PACK GO!

  3. RW says:

    Please enjoy this piece of rich, Bear tradition.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VFnbYW8MCXc

    Go Pack!

  4. DC says:

    All this says is the bears have the blueprint to keep the packers to a low score. However, the packers D ranks higher than “Da Bears” D so I’m saying they do not have the blueprint to beat the packers. The packers D is ranked 5th overall (Bears at 9 overall), while the packers pass D was ranked 5th (Bears at 20), Bears take the advantage in rush D being ranked 2nd compared to the Pack at 18, and the Packers D is ranked 2nd in scoring (Bears ranked 4th). So I just dont buy the blueprint of the bears defense winning this for the bears. If anything stats tell us that there is a better chance of the packers defense being the blueprint for a win. One thing that will be a huge factor for the Packers is special teams. I do think the game will be close and feel that if the Packers cant keep Hester in control they could be in trouble.

  5. Daniel says:

    As long as there is no precipitation, they should be straight and their air attack should be plenty. I’m not saying it’s gonna be easy, but Aaron Rodgers is on fire right now and some tough turf isn’t going to stop him.

    Do you think that the Bears are going to have any success on the ground or in the air? Great stats by DC, which makes think a resounding NO.

  6. jeff says:

    Great discussion (even by packers fans). Bears D vs. Pack O is only 1/3 of the story. Special teams could be the deciding factor. One Cutler turnover could squash CHI hopes too. I know you’re only as good as your last game, & Rodgers was great. But that was under completely diiferent circumstances vs. A completely different team. The Pats beat the Jets by 42 points a month ago and then lost to them by 7. Any given Sunday…