Green Machine

Brett Favre has a 19-4 record against the Bears and they're worried about somebody else? <P> Try No. 30 for the Packers. Running back Ahman Green.

"Brett Favre is the man -- make no question about it -- but No. 30 (Green) has been our Achilles' heel the last few times that we played them," Bears defensive tackle Bryan Robinson said Wednesday. "We want to stop No. 30. We'd love for Brett Favre to feel as if he has to take the ball into his own hands. He's the playmaker and that's what he does if everything else can't get going.

"(But we have) one thing in mind: go after No. 30."

Favre's age and a broken right thumb has opponents talking these days. They say the key to stopping the Packers is -- gasp! -- taking your chances with Favre's arm, not Green's legs.

"(It's) no more pressure than I had at the beginning of the season," Green said Wednesday, "because I've still got to run the ball and I've still got to do my thing in terms of running the ball and catching the ball out of the backfield."

Favre is on pace to throw for a career-low 3,144 yards, and he's four interceptions away from his career high. Since breaking his thumb Oct. 19, Favre has thrown 11 touchdowns and 10 picks, and also fumbled four times.

Green, meanwhile, is on the verge of breaking the oldest team rushing record in the NFL. Green needs just 92 yards to break Hall of Famer Jim Taylor's 41-year-old Packers single-season rushing record of 1,474 yards. The Packers lead the NFL in rushing yards per game at 163.3.

Green, who attended the same high school in Omaha, Neb., as Bears great Gale Sayers, ran over Chicago in the first meeting. Green had 176 yards against the Bears at the reopening of renovated Soldier Field Sept. 29, when the Packers hammered Chicago 38-23. Green's performance that game was the then third-best in the Packers' 82-year NFL history and moved him into third place on Green Bay's all-time rushing list. But Green topped that mark when he rushed for 192 yards against the Eagles Nov. 10.

"We are a much more physical team this time around," Robinson said. "I think we understand right at this moment the in and out of playing the run. Guys are starting to fit."

"It looks a little bit different, basically, a lot more aggressive," Green said of the current Bears defense. "(They're) blitzing from the corners and of course from the (line)backers. But it's a lot more aggressive blitzing than when we played them before."

The Nebraska product ranks second in the NFC in rushing and total yards from scrimmage with 1,383 yards and a 5.3 yards per carry average. Green continues to lead the NFC in non-kicker scoring with 84 points on 14 touchdowns, as well as in the production of first downs with 94 (78 rushing, 16 receiving).

The Bears and Packers enjoy the longest-running rivalry in professional football. Today's meeting will be the 166th in the series, with Chicago holding an 83-76-6 edge. The Packers have won six straight in the series, but this game is crucial to both teams. Chicago is 5-7 and Green Bay is 6-6 (and only 3-3 at home). The loser is out of the playoff hunt, while the winner will be on Minnesota's tail in the NFC North title hunt.

"We're really excited about this game obviously for all of the reasons – the rivalry and also that it has meaning," Bears coach Dick Jauron said. "The team has really fought to get themselves to the point where it has meaning in terms of the standings. And that's a great thing.

"We're not kidding ourselves. We know how it's going to be for us. We're familiar with them obviously and their talent but we're looking forward to it. We're looking forward to the challenge."

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