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5 battles to watch for during Bears vs. Packers

Cutler vs. Rodgers will grab the headlines in the days leading up to the Packers-Bears Monday night showdown in Chicago. And why not…both are among the highest rated QBs in the league (Cutler is 1st at 121.2 and Rodgers 11th at 94).

But looking past the sexiest position on the field, there are a handful of other battles that will dictate who comes out on top between this matchup of NFC North unbeatens.

TE Jermichael Finley vs. Bears LBs, safeties.

Lovie and Rod Marinelli will have their hands full trying to scheme against the league’s most athletic TE. The Packers move Finley all over the field, which will present matchup issues for the Bears all night long.

If his early season get-up-and-go is any indication, Urlacher may be able to cover him down the middle…on occasion. But when he’s lined up outside, the Bears might be best served assigning strong safety – and former nickelback – Danieal Manning to cover Finley.

  • Advantage: Packers (I mean, there’s a reason I snatched Finley up in all 3 of my fantasy leagues.)

LB Clay Matthews vs. Bears Tackles.

The dude with the golden locks already has 6 sacks…which is 5 more than Julius Peppers has registered, if you’re keeping score.

Frank Omiyale, who’ll likely line up at left tackle in place of Chris Williams, shouldn’t be in awe of Matthews’ speed, considering he went toe-to-toe with the freakish DeMarcus Ware for 3 quarters in Dallas last week. Bears TE Brandon Manumaleuna will serve as a part-time roadblock for Matthews as well.

  • Advantage: Packers

CB Charles Woodson vs. WRs Knox/Hester.

During last year’s season opener, Woodson excelled in the role of bully vs. the freshman, Knox. While they both caught long TD passes vs. GB last year, Knox and Hester had trouble getting off the line on numerous occasions. And Woodson out-muscled them for position on other tough catches in that game, as well as the one later on at Soldier Field.

But the Bears wideouts are both a year older and in an offense that’s better suited for their skill set. And Woodson is breaking in some new guys in the Packers secondary, thanks to injuries to cornerback Al Harris and safety Atari Bigby, who are both still weeks from returning.

But how these speedsters fare against the wily vet will be a subplot to watch. If they do struggle, don’t be surprised if we see the reemergence of the bigger, stronger Devin Aromashodu.

  • Advantage: Bears

Mason Crosby vs. Robbie Gould.

In what should be a high-scoring, aerial assault on the Soldier Field scoreboard, a missed/made field goal could be the difference between a W and an L.

Crosby might have a stronger leg, but Gould is more accurate.

  • Advantage: Bears

Battle of the non-existent running games.

Remember when the running game used to be a key component of any successful gameplan? It’s really not that big of a deal for this matchup.

The Pack is without three-time 1,000-yard rusher, Ryan Grant. So it’ll be Brandon Jackson trying to penetrate the league’s best rush defense. Matt Forte is averaging less than 3 yards a carry, and the Bears rank 28th in the league as a team.

But both offenses will use throws to the flat and screens to compensate for their lagging ground games. And don’t forget, both QBs are mobile enough to convert a third-and-long with their legs.

  • Advantage: Bears

My prediction?

I’m not quite ready to pull the trigger on this one yet. I’m leaning one way, but since I have an extra day to think about it, I’ll let it incubate for another 24 hours. What do you think?



  1. AC

    September 24, 2010 at 9:03 am

    Don’t forget about DA and Cutler abusing Woodson in the 2nd game last year. They constantly went to quick outs and hooks on him and he couldn’t muscle DA at all and that was DA’s coming out party. I would love to see them run a stop and go on Woodson on the first play and burn him deep.

  2. jeff

    September 24, 2010 at 9:48 am

    Good point, AC. Although Woodson would probably trip him anyway…

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