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Bears-Packers matchups and predictions

Green Bay Packers' AarRodgers throws before an NFL football game against Detroit Lions Sunday Dec. 9 2012 Green Bay Wis.

Green Bay Packers' Aaron Rodgers throws before an NFL football game against the Detroit Lions Sunday, Dec. 9, 2012, in Green Bay, Wis. (AP Photo/Mike Roemer)

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RICK MORRISSEY: 27-14 Packers

Season: 11-2

RICK TELANDER: 18-14 Packers

Season: 10-3

DAN McGRATH: 27-17 Packers

Season: 9-4

SEAN JENSEN: 20-14 Packers

Season: 8-5

ADAM L. JAHNS: 27-23 Packers

Season: 6-3

MARK POTASH: 24-20 Packer

Season: 10-3

Updated: December 15, 2012 6:41PM



WEEK 15

PACKERS AT BEARS

Time: Noon Sunday at Soldier Field.

TV: Fox-32 (Joe Buck, Troy Aikman, Pam Oliver).

Radio: 780-AM, 105.9-FM.

Line: Packers by 3.

Total: 43.

WHEN THE BEARS HAVE THE BALL

On the ground

On paper, the Bears, with their 10th-ranked rushing offense (17th in yards per carry), should be able to establish a ground game against the Packers’ 17th-ranked run defense (24th in ypc), but don’t count on it. The Packers have allowed an average of 158 rush yards in their last four games, yet have won all four. The Bears are averaging 112 rush yards and 4.0 ypc in their last five games and are 1-4. With Matt Forte limited to 7 carries for 31 yards because of an ankle injury, the Bears rushed for 94 yards on 23 carries (4.1 ypc) vs. the Pack in Week 2. Forte (13-85) is averaging 16 carries per game.

In the air

Dom Capers has stayed a step ahead of the Bears since he became the Packers’ DC in 2009. Jay Cutler has been sacked 26 times (once for every 9.9 drop-backs) and has a 53.1 rating (7 TDs, 16 INTs) in 7 games vs. the Packers as a Bear. He was 11-for-27 for 126 yards with 7 sacks and 4 INTs in Week 2. The Bears are still looking for a secondary WR to break out, but against the Packers, they couldn’t even get the ball to Brandon Marshall. Cutler has targeted Marshall 12.7 times per game but did not throw his way even once in the first half vs. the Pack and only 5 times in the game.

Key matchup

WR Brandon Marshall vs. CB Tramon Williams

Marshall is having the best year of his career (101-1,342, 9 TDs), but he was invisible against the Packers in Week 2, with 2 catches for 24 yards. With 2 picks, Williams caught as many passes from Jay Cutler as Marshall did.

WHEN THE PACKERS HAVE THE BALL

On the ground

While the Bears struggle to establish a ground game with a Pro Bowl RB, the Packers find a way with third- and fourth-string RBs and backups at LG and RT. In a tie game with the Lions last week, they used 7 straight runs to drive 59 yards for a TD, with DuJuan Harris going 14 yards untouched for the score. With Aaron Rodgers scoring on a 27-yard scramble, the Packers, despite being down 14-0 in the first quarter, rushed for 140 yards on 25 carries (5.6 ypc) in a 27-20 victory. The Bears shut down Adrian Peterson last week only after getting burned for 104 yards in the first quarter.

In the air

The Bears defend Aaron Rodgers better than most teams — his passer rating has been below 100 in 7 of 10 games — but don’t have much to show for it. Rodgers is 8-2 against the Bears, winning 7 of the last 8. The Bears contained Rodgers in Week 2 (1 TD, 1 INT, 85.3), but that’s when Rodgers was in an early-season funk. In his last 10 games, he has thrown 26 TDs and 6 INTs for a 109.6 rating — with Greg Jennings missing 8 games and Jordy Nelson missing 2. Randall Cobb (71-777, 7 TDs) and James Jones (46-562, 9 TDs) have picked up the slack. Cobb had 7 catches for 102 yards vs. the Lions.

Key matchup

DE Julius Peppers vs. LT Marshall Newhouse

The banged-up Bears’ defensive line has not been getting the push it did in the first half. Peppers had 2 sacks against the Packers in Week 2 but has 1 in his last 4 games. He has 15 QB pressures. He had 49 at this time last season.

X-FACTOR

As feared, the Bears are struggling to win when they rely solely on their offense for points. Without a return touchdown in their last 5 games, the Bears are 1-4. Unless the offense suddenly kicks into gear, it’ll be up to the defense and special teams to chip in. The Bears are 2-8 vs. the Packers in the last 5 seasons. Both victories were keyed by special teams and takeaways (Devin Hester’s punt TD/Charles Tillman’s strip in 2010; Alex Brown’s blocked FG in 2008).

SPECIAL TEAMS

Devin Hester and the Bears’ return game are still looking to break a long one, but that might be the least of their concerns vs. the Packers. PK Robbie Gould is out for the season with a calf injury. His replacement, veteran Olindo Mare, has not kicked in a game this season. Even the outstanding coverage units are at risk against Packers KR Randall Cobb after Sherrick McManis and Craig Steltz suffered season-ending injuries last week vs. the Vikings.



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