It’s a short week, which is always bad news for an injured team (which means it’s always bad news for the Packers). There’s a lot of great storylines, so let’s start with the obvious.
Offensive Tackles (or lack thereof)
David Bakhtiari and Bryan Bulaga are probably the best pass-blocking tackle tandem in the league (I don’t care if you call me a homer) and they are both probably going to sit out the game tonight. Both are listed as Doubtful. Ugh. Their next three backups are all on injured reserve, so it’s up to Justin McCrary and Adam Pankey, maybe with a little Ulrick John mixed in, to carry the day and protect the greatest player in the history of the game (I don’t care if you call me a home). Neither of those three were good enough to make an opening day roster. They are tackles number 6, 7, and 8 on the team. Not the 6, 7, and 8 offensive linemen, mind you – the 6, 7, and 8 tackles. Feet don’t fail Rodgers now.
Who To Play?
With a lot of injuries, many advocate resting guys for the long week off in preparation for a tough game against the Cowboys. I’m a bit of a contrarian. If you are banged up, why not try to beat the easier opponent? Play guys this week and give them the Cowboys game off – isn’t that better odds? Plus a division game is more important than a conference game. Resting guys because it’s a long week off doesn’t add up, mathwise, either. Whether you sit out a Thursday game or a Sunday game, you’re still sitting out until next week. Granted, there is a risk of additional injury playing earlier.
Mike Glennon is not good. Chicago is a tough sports city, but they hate their current quarterback more than they hate most things (and that’s saying a lot) – see question 3. The Bears are sticking with him because they are letting their rookie learn from the bench (which is very wise). This means they are not “all-in” this year, but no one told the players that. On the other side of the field: Rodgers comma Aaron.
The Bears just won an overtime game against the best team in the AFC Central, which is more impressive than winning an overtime game against the worst team in the AFC Central (the Browns have the same record with a better point differential). Both teams are coming off exciting wins, but no one wants to play a hot overtime game going into a short week. That momentum could give way to energy, hydration, and grit in the fourth quarter and I expect the home crowd to provide a boost, just like they did at the end last week.
Randall Cobb is supposed to play, which means a lot for Aaron Rodgers. In the scramble drill, which we should expect to see a lot if we start a couple tackles that began the season at home with no NFL roster spot (just like me), Randall Cobb is a hustler who gets open and catches Rodgers’s eye. His impact goes beyond stats and should pay off.
The Bears have led the all-time series for the last. Apparently, the game attendance was only 5,000 the last time the Packers lead the series. Since that was 1933, the only people who were at the game are probably dead, which means, should the Packers win, the 70k-ish people in attendance will be the only living souls to have ever witnessed the Packers leading the series in-person. I remember being younger when the Bears led the series by over 20 games and thinking “Gee, they only play twice a year and you need to sweep to the series each year to make up a game – even if they started winning all the time, I would still be really old by the time they caught up.” I really didn’t think I would live to see the day, but thanks to Brett Favre and Aaron Rodgers, I may yet see it (hopefully in a matter of hours). I wish I could be there.
Rodgers has not turned it on full throttle yet, but started to come around at the end of the Bengals game. If he can keep on the move, he could have a chance. The Bears are pretty much going to try to stuff a power run game right up Nitro’s no-no hole. If we can’t stop it, that would be the game. Even without tackles capable of being backups to benchwarmers, I can’t help but feel Rodgers running around on his own (with a healthy receiving core now that Cobb is back), is going to be more productive than the Bears trying to run all night. I think Cobb gets some clutch 3rd down catches, Montgomery adds more as a receiver than a rusher, and Ahmad Brooks gets more integrated into the defense. Oh, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see Capers experiment with some unscouted looks with the Vinegar Badger for our division rivals. Dean Lowry is due for a splash play as well. The key in a slogfest like this will be turnovers, the Bears haven’t intercepted a pass yet this year, so maybe Rodgers breaks his streak. I like the Packers in an ugly old-school black and blue division Thursday night injury-marathon crapfest. Also: Martellus Bennett wants to show up one of his former teams and actually catches most of the passes that hit him in the hands.
Packers 13, Bears 10