NFL Thursday Night Preview: Chicago vs. Green Bay

Screenshot_1So far, the Green Bay Packers have dominated the the Chicago Bears in every which way possible. They are hoping that their stellar performance from last week will carry over to tomorrow night’s game.

The Packers will try to string some back-to-back wins together and keep control of the NFC North when they host the Bears on NFL Thursday Night Football.

Green Bay over the season so far, at some points looked terrible when they had their three-game losing streak which was topped off with an 18-16 home loss to the Detroit Lions in Week 10. But they also had some highlights, where they responded to those testing losses and made sure to hang onto first place in the North, by rough-riding over the Minnesota Vikings in a 30-13 win last Sunday.

“We’ve been taking it on the chin, rightfully so, the last three weeks after a couple real poor performances,” Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers told reporters. “This was an important week for us. We really stuck together.”

Chicago on the other hand has suffered a loss of momentum, going in the opposite direction desired when they lost at home 17-15 home to Denver after getting encouraging back-to-back wins. That loss has diminished their slim wild card hopes by a huge margin.

“Our margin for error isn’t that great,” Bears quarterback Jay Cutler said to media. “We have to play pretty good football for four quarters and we have to play really good football for the fourth quarter. Games that we have won we have figured out a way to do that and games we lost, we haven’t.”

Chicago who is 4-6, has had a lot of injuries this season, and some very key ones on offense. Running back Matt Forte has an injured knee, and wide receivers Alshon Jeffery is out with groin, and Eddie Royal also out on knee related injuries, so are very questionable to play tomorrow.

“Yeah, we’re missing some guys but that’s nothing new,” Cutler, who also missed one game in September, told reporters. “We’ve had guys in and out of the lineup all year long. I thought (backup wide receivers Joshua Bellamy) and (Marquess Wilson) stepped in there and had a heck of a day for us. We tried to use the tight ends a little more.”

Chicago Running back Jeremy Langford has put up great back-to-back performances with over 100 yards from scrimmage. He has taken over the load for Forte, and was doing really well at it before being held to 25 yards on 13 carries in last week’s loss to Denver.

The Packers are 7-3, both Rodgers and Green Bay have dealt with their own injuries, and mostly to the skill positions. Rodgers had a shoulder injury and was removed from the injury report only this week after throwing two touchdown passes on Sunday to help stop the bleed and break the losing streak.

“If you could bottle it, I wouldn’t be standing here talking to you, that’s for sure,” Packers coach Mike McCarthy told reporters about the differences in his team week-to-week. “It’s a game of ebb and flow. There are a lot of variables that go into being successful each week.”

In Week 1, when Rodgers played against Chicago, he looked pretty healthy, going 18-of-23 for 189 yards. He has three touchdowns and no interceptions in a 31-23 win. Cutler on the other hand is 1-11 with 22 interceptions in his career against the Packers, so his play does not look as promising since Green Bay has taken 10 of the last 11 meetings, including in the postseason. So the odds are stacked against the Bears. But then again…

“Obviously that was the first week of the season so a lot has changed since then,” Packers linebacker Clay Matthews said.

There should be a nice ceremony mid-game, as the Packers will retire Brett Favre’s No. 4 at halftime. So to highlight his acheivements, it’s a sure thing that the Pack will play hard at home and tame the Bears once again.

Our Pick: Packers over Bears, 34-21