I apologize for missing my weekly preview last week, but it was the Buffalo Bills.....THE BUFFALO BILLS. If I would have posted something, it would have been along the lines of "Green Bay wins big" and "for all you gambling degenerates out there, I again give Green Bay's opponent the points and take that easy money to the bank!" (For those of you keeping score at home, I'm 2-0 versus the spread after 2 weeks). Week 3 is a different story however. The Chicago Bears are off to a surprising 2-0 start after getting a quality win in BigD last week.....although using the phrase "quality win versus Dallas" seems to be less common with each passing week. Jay Cutler is looking more like the Denver Jay Cutler of 2 years ago by racking up huge yardage, getting his receivers in the endzone, and limiting his turnovers. Is this a product of Mike Martz's offensive genius or is it due to playing a weak Detroit Lions defense and over-rated Dallas team? In defense of Martz, Matt Forte has also improved since last season and has regained his rookie form....not so much from a rushing standpoint, but a shear production standpoint. Through 2 games Forte is averaging almost 150 yards from scrimmage and 1.5 scores, so it appears that Martz is using Forte like he did Marshall Faulk in the St.Louis days of "The Greatest Show on Turf". All that said, Chicago has gotten away from their traditional philosophy of pounding the ball and winning the game at the line of scrimmage, and now looks to open up their offense and win the game through the air. Defensively, the Bears are much improved from last season. Their defensive leader Brian Urlacher appears to be healthy again, and they have added the talented albeit old and overpaid Julius Peppers to their defensive line. Whether or not their defensive unit can stay healthy for a whole season is the big question and may be key to whether or not they are a true contender in the NFC Central this season.
After breezing to victory over Master Reid's "other" favorite team last week (that statement would be clever if Drew Brees was our QB), Green Bay is also is sitting at 2-0 and tied with Chicago at the top of the NFC Central. In spite of the 34-7 shalacking, the Green Bay offense still does not seem to be operating on all cylinders. If you're a "glass half full guy", you're thinking, wow.....we're 2-0, just blew out Buffalo by 27, and our offense STILL isn't playing to it's full potential! This is going to be a great season! If you're a "glass half empty guy", you're thinking Rodgers may have been overhyped coming into this season and isn't quite ready for "elite" QB status, and that Ryan Grant's injury may be more significant than what was first thought as Brandon Jackson is only averaging 3.2 ypc (2.6 ypc without his 18 yard longest carry). Personally, I'm sitting between half full and half empty. I do think Rodgers will improve his accuracy and cut down on interceptions, but I am concerned about our running game. If Green Bay cannot establish any sort of a consistent running game, the pressure goes squarely on Rodgers, thus allowing opposing defenses to focus more on stopping the passing game and attacking the quarterback. In relation to this, how effective is Bulaga going to be now that he is our starting left tackle? This week should be a good test for Bulaga as he will likely be squaring off against the crafty vet Peppers.
So what is my prediction? Offensively, Green Bay gets the edge here. Defensively, I would say the teams are roughly equal, with a slight edge going towards Green Bay mainly due to Baffoon's man crush Clay "The Truth" Matthews who seems to wreak havoc on every other play. Vegas seems to agree with me as they are making Green Bay a 3 point favorite even though they are on the road against a 2-0 team. In spite of the fact that I think Green Bay is the better team, I think that this is going to be a very tough game! Chicago is going to come out fired up in front of their MNF home crowd and look to pounce on us early. Like most tough road games, I think early success (whether it be a score on offense or stop on defense) is key. Quiet the crowd early and don't let Chicago get a big momentum swing. For whatever reason this Chicago Bears team, whether they are good or bad at the time, feeds on momentum throughout the game more than any other team I have watched. They love to make big plays on defense and special teams, and their offense seems to respond directly to this. That being said, I think the #1 key to the game is the turnover battle. If Green Bay can win this, they have a great shot at taking sole possession of 1st place in the division. The last thing you want to do is let Urlacher snag one of Rodgers passes and get the fib-filled crowd all fired up. While it may not be an obvious choice, I think Key #2 is the running game. Neither team has been able to establish much of a run game through 2 games, but if 1 of these teams can get it going, their QB will automatically be more dangerous than they already are. In the end, I think the Green Bay D forces Cutler into a few mistakes and Chicago's weak offensive line play will prevent Forte from doing much on the ground. Due to this, Green Bay gets the W 27-20......so for all of you gambling degenerates out there, this means you should give Chicago those measly 3 points and take that easy money to the bank!