We have to wait one extra day for the Week 3 tilt between the Black and Blue Division rivals, both looking to improve to 3-0. There's no better stage for an NFC North rivalry than on Monday Night. A few of my most memorable Packers moments have occurred in that situation: Antonio Freeman's "HE DID WHAT?!" catch against the Vikings and Favre to Brooks for a 99-yard TD against the Bears are just a few. I expect a great old-school battle this week, so let's dive into the matchups.
Bears' Offense vs. Packers' Defense
Chicago's offensive line is not what it once was, and the Packers have been creating an effective pass rush against teams with subpar O-lines in two games this season. I expect Monday's game to be no different. The Bears will be productive on offense only if Jay Cutler is able to get the ball out of his hands quickly and make good decisions in the face of the rush, and I don't see that happening. Sooner or later, Clay Matthews will be slowed down by someone...but I doubt that it's this week.
Packers' Offense vs. Bears' Defense
Oh what will happen with the running game? Frankly, I don't expect conventional runs to be effective against the Bears' front seven, especially with Brian Urlacher's return from injury appearing to invigorate the unit. That said, I want to see more swing and screen passes to Brandon Jackson - that's where he's most effective. I see a lot in common between Jackson and Matt Forte - they're both good blockers and very good receivers out of the backfield, and they have not been particularly effective on running plays. I know I said it last week, but I continue to hope that McCarthy and Joe Philbin recognize this and adapt their playcalling accordingly.
Bears' Player to Watch: Greg Olsen
Despite a few blindingly fast (but raw) wideouts in Johnny Knox and Devin Hester, but the receiving threat that worries me the most in this game is their athletic tight end, Greg Olsen. While he hasn't had a dominant game this season, he showed a flash of his ability against the Cowboys on a 39-yard catch and run for a score. It will be interesting to see how the Packers address Olsen, whether with safeties or linebackers.
Packers' Players to Watch: James Jones and Jordy Nelson
The Bears' secondary has three veteran starters and a fourth player in his second year as a starter. Behind the starters, however, there's not a whole lot of depth in the secondary. I want to see the Packers' extra wideouts have good games playing one-on-one against the Bears' nickel and dime corners, while the safeties focus on Jermichael Finley.
All in all, I expect this to be an old-school defensive struggle, won by whichever quarterback can avoid turnovers and make one or two big plays. I think Rodgers fits that description better than Jay Cutler, and the Pack wins a close, low-scoring game.