Bears-Packers Breakdown

A win over the Packers and the Bears clinch the NFC North crown. It would also be their first sweep over Green Bay since 1991. Take a look at the game plans, key matchups as well as reaction from players and coaches.

The Bears have the ability to open up the passing game more with veteran Rex Grossman replacing rookie Kyle Orton, but they will not forget that they are a run-first team. The mere presence of Grossman could open things up for RB Thomas Jones, who frequently faced crowds at the line of scrimmage because of Orton's inability to muster an effective passing game.

"I think we'll be able to kind of balance out the run pass ratio a little bit better and it'll be better for our running game," said WR Muhsin Muhammad. "For the guys that are totting that ball we'll have more of a pass threat I think and we may be able to even it out a little more."

The Bears expect to do a better job defensively limiting the Packers' ground game, which has lost another running back in Samkon Gado, who rushed for 75 yards against the Bears on 20 carries three weeks ago. The Bears are perfectly content to let Packers QB Brett Favre put it up another 58 times, as he did in the first meeting, because they believe they'll get more than the two sacks they had in that game.

"We've still got to play better," said DE Adewale Ogunleye. "I think, even though we won that game against Green Bay, that was the beginning of a two-game span where I think our defense didn't play really well -- that game and Pittsburgh. So we're going to watch the film, know exactly what we need to do and we're going to get in our gaps and play sound football against Green Bay."


  • Bears QB Rex Grossman, making his first start in 15 months, vs. Packers standout rookie FS Nick Collins.

  • Bears five-time Pro Bowl C Olin Kreutz, an undersized player at an inflated 292 pounds, vs. Packers 345-pound DT Grady Jackson.

  • Packers QB Brett Favre, who has tossed an NFL-worst 24 interceptions, vs. a Bears defense that is No. 1 in points, total yards, first downs, passing yards and average gain per pass allowed.

    Though a transformation may do him some good, the Packers on Christmas Day can't have Favre dyeing his scruffy face white, donning a red suit and freely handing out, no, throwing up gifts to Bears defenders, as he did in the teams' first meeting three weeks ago. Then again, the Packers may have no other choice than to lean on Favre's recently shaky right arm, given the heightened plight at running back.

    "We've got to be able to stop the run," said defensive coordinator Ron Rivera. "They're still a good running football team. I know that they've got some injuries at the position but they've got a good, solid offensive line when they run the ball well. They're very efficient.

    "With his ability to throw the football you've got to be able to get to (Favre) early and often. If not he'll sit back there and find his receivers and he's going to be able to make plays."

    The return of Rex Grossman to the Bears offense has forced Green Bay to amend a defensive scheme that was geared toward stopping the run. Incidentally, though, the run defense has been Green Bay's Achilles' heel the second half of the season, and Chicago would be wise to go Santa Claus-heavy with Thomas Jones. He averaged nearly 5 yards per carry in the first meeting this year and busted loose for a season-high 152 yards on the Lambeau Field turf in the Bears' win last year.

    "I think they know we're going to run our offense," said Chicago offensive coordinator Ron Turner. "We're not going to put something new in and change drastically. We're going to run our offense and really everything's still based on running the football. Playing great defense, running the football and hopefully we can get a little more production in the pass game."


  • Packers offense vs. Bears LBs Brian Urlacher and Lance Briggs. While Chicago's bookend corners of Charles Tillman and Nathan Vasher co-starred in the teams' first matchup with game-changing and game-clinching interceptions, respectively, the newly minted Pro Bowl tandem of Urlacher and Briggs were disruptive from start to finish all over the field. Each had16 tackles and combined for five pass breakups, including one by Urlacher while he ran stride for stride with RB Tony Fisher on a deep sideline pass. The hard-hitting Briggs put TE Bubba Franks on the sideline early in the game, and Franks landed on injured reserve because of lingering neck and back soreness.

    "If we win that game, we win the division," Urlacher said. "That's the No. 1 thing in all of our minds."

  • Packers CB Al Harris vs. Bears WR Muhsin Muhammad. Harris held Muhammad to zero catches in the first game, with just four passes thrown in the direction of the Chicago playmaker. It was the first time in 47 regular season games Muhammad didn't have at least one reception. Having been denied his first Pro Bowl spot Wednesday, Harris could be playing with a chip on his shoulder. More passes figure to be thrown Muhammad's way now that Rex Grossman is at quarterback. Harris struggled in defending Baltimore's Derrick Mason on Monday, getting beat twice for big catches.

    "He's a great receiver and knows the weaknesses of the defense," Grossman said of Muhammad. "I know he is going to create a passing lane or create a situation where if I go to him I know he is going to give me somewhere to throw it. Obviously, he is an All-Pro receiver so he is going to be able to create that separation."

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