Chicago Bears (5-4) at Green Bay Packers (4-5) Sunday, Nov. 16, 2008 1pm ET FOX Lambeau Field, Green Bay , WI
by Matt of Predictem.com
Old rivals square off again in a week 11 matchup, as the Chicago Bears travel to Lambeau Field to take on the Green Bay Packers. The Bears are in a tie for the NFC North Division lead with the Minnesota Vikings at 5-4, one game ahead of the Packers at 4-5. This is a big one for the Pack; a loss would likely end any chance for a division crown and leave them a lot of work to gain a wildcard berth. The game kicks at noon local time and will be carried by FOX.
As of Wednesday afternoon, most of the offshore sportsbooks still had this game off the board, but the early indications from Vegas have the Packers a 4 to 5.5 point favorite with the over/under total for the game near 45 points. Check back later in the week for updated spread and money line information.
Chicago is on the road for the first time in three weeks, a stretch that saw them go 2-1 with wins over Detroit and Minnesota and the loss coming at the hands of the undefeated Titans. The Bears are 2-2 straight up as visitors this year and have a 2-1-1 against the spread record in those games. Overall, the Bears are 4-4-1 against the spread and are 4-1 ATS in the last 5 games against NFC North opponents.
Green Bay is coming off back-to-back heartbreakers on the road, losing to the Titans 19-16 in overtime and dropping a 28-27 decision to the Vikings as a potential game winning field goal sailed wide right. The Packers have a 2-2 straight up record in Lambeau and the same 2-2 mark against the spread as hosts. The Pack is 6-3 against the spread on the year, and has had success in the division, going 4-0 ATS versus North foes.
There were not high expectations for the Bears coming off a post-season that saw many departures and uncertainty at the quarterback position going into the exhibition season, but Chicago has gelled under Kyle Orton and the defense is making plays en route to wins. The Bear offense is better than in years past, ranking in the top half of the NFL in passing and rushing and ranking 6th in points scored per game at just over 26. The defense is not as intimidating as in prior seasons, but a 4th best rush defense has made opposing offenses one dimensional and Chicago is allowing just over 21 points per game.
Kyle Orton missed the game against the Titans and is questionable for this Sundays game with an ankle injury. If Orton is not able to go, Rex Grossman will start again. Grossman has 231 yards passing on the year with two touchdowns and two picks against Ortons 10 TDs and 90.8 quarterback rating. Matt Forte leads the team in rushing yards (713) and touchdowns (4) as well as adding 282 yards and three scores as a receiver out of the backfield. Greg Olson is developing into the best pure receiver on the team, leading the Bears with 346 yards on 29 catches and is the security outlet for both QBs. Lance Briggs leads the defense with 55 tackles and is a strong combo next to Brian Urlacher.
The Packers are still a potent offense even without Brett Favre, ranking 11th in passing yards with 221 per game and 7th in points scored at 26.3 on average. The running game has yet to get on track, averaging just 98 yards a game, leading to long third down attempts and a lot of quarterback hits. The Green Bay defense has dealt with a series of injuries to key players throughout the year, and currently give up a 154 yards to the rush, ranking 28th. They are stout against the pass; ranking 3rd at 179 yards allowed and give up 22.9 points per contest.
Aaron Rodgers has played well, completing 63.2% of his passes for 2,124 yards for 13 touchdowns against 5 picks. Ryan Grant remains the best option out of the backfield, leading the team 625 yards on the ground and 2 scores. Greg Jennings is the vertical threat for the Packers, averaging 18.6 yards on 43 receptions while Donald Driver does his work underneath, grabbing 41 balls, with the duo combining for 7 touchdowns. The secondary for the Pack is among the best, with Nick Collins, Tramon Williams and Charles Woodson combining for 14 interceptions, 23 pass defenses and 5 defensive scores. A.J. Hawk is now the leading tackler with Nick Barnett on the IR with a knee injury and Aaron Kampman leads the team with 6.5 sacks.
Kyle Orton is officially listed as questionable on the Wednesday report and Hunter Hillenmeyer is also questionable for the Bears. Green Bay is already playing without Cullen Jenkins and Nick Barnett with Jarrett Bush and Brandon Chillar added to the injury report as questionable for Sunday.
My Pick: Green Bay needs a win and the home crowd will fired up for the first game at Lambeau in three weeks, but the Pack will be one-dimensional without any run game to speak of and the Bears D should commit to shutting down Jennings, leaving the underneath as Rodger’s only real option to move the ball. I can’t see the Packers putting up enough points to cover the 4.5 or 5, take the Bears.