Matchup to watch when the Packers are on offense:
QB Brett Favre vs. LB Brian Urlacher
Of Favre's 13 interceptions this season, the one that grinds on him the most is when he threw an ill-advised pass into the hands of Urlacher in the third quarter of Green Bay's 27-20 loss to the Bears on Oct. 7. Favre has talked about that interception a few times during his weekly press conferences this season because it was a game-changing play. The Packers were ahead 20-10 at the time, but the Bears scored a touchdown off the turnover en route to 17 unanswered points. Favre has great respect for Urlacher and will again be on the lookout for the middle linebacker roaming the field in pass coverage.
Matchup to watch when the Paskers are on defense:
DE Aaron Kampman vs. OT Fred Miller
Miller held Kampman, a Pro Bowler again this season, to just a half sack in the first meeting between the two teams. However, Miller has struggled lately in pass protection, and Kampman is tied for fourth in the NFL with 12 sacks. Look for Kampman to school Miller a few times on Sunday.
Muhsin Muhammad and Charles Woodson
Of course, if offensive coordinator Ron Turner is as conservative with his play-calling as he was last Monday in a loss at Minnesota, Orton won't have much of a chance to make plays down the field anyway.
Matchup to watch when the Bears are on defense:
DEs Adewale Ogunleye and Mark Anderson vs. OTs Chad Clifton and Mark Tauscher
If the Bears don't get consistent pressure on Favre and force a handful of turnovers, they'll get picked apart all day long because that 'Big 5' receiver package presents matchup problems in the secondary. Cornerbacks Charles Tillman and Nathan Vasher will do their jobs, but both safety positions have been liabilities most of the season in run support and in pass coverage. Ogunleye is having a terrific campaign and may have been worthy of a Pro Bowl berth, while Anderson has come crashing back to reality as a starter in `07 after flourishing his rookie year as a pass-rushing specialist in `06.
Green Bay has juggled the lineup up front in the middle, but both Clifton and Tauscher have played well on the outside – Favre has only been sacked 14 times in 14 games.
The Packers will win this game if ...
... they continue to do what they've done all season – spread teams out with their ‘Big 5' receiver formation and let Favre pick away at the defense. In between, the Packers have discovered a running game led by Ryan Grant, who leads the NFC in rushing since Week 8. The Bears enter the game ranked 29th in overall defense, so look for the Packers to utilize a balanced offensive attack to put points on the board.
The Packers will lose this game if ...
... they play the way they did in the first game of the season against the Bears on Oct. 7 at Lambeau Field. Green Bay out-gained Chicago 439-285 in total yards and took a 17-7 lead, but fumbled the ball away three times and allowed the Bears to intercept two passes – allowing Chicago to score 17 unanswered points.
The Bears will win this game if ...
... they get a couple of gift interceptions from Favre as he's known to do from time to time. All things being equal, the Packers are simply a much better football team than the Bears right now. Not to mention the fact that Green Bay has something to play for, while the defending NFC champions are currently making plans to watch the playoffs from their living rooms. And even though the Midway Monsters picked off Minnesota's Tarvaris Jackson three times and also recovered a fumble in Week 15, they still came out on the short end of the stick.
Orton also struggled to move the ball consistently on offense against the Vikings, so the defense will have to come up with some game-changing plays and possibly find the end zone off a takeaway.
Greg Jennings and Nathan Vasher
The Bears will lose this game if ...
... they lose the turnover battle. As implied above, the Bears don't measure up very well against the Packers right now on either side of the ball, so they've got to find a way to get some cheap points in this game. The Green Bay offense has been rolling lately with Grant taking some of the pressure off Favre, and young receivers like Greg Jennings and James Jones are getting better with each passing week. Mike McCarthy's defense doesn't do anything exceedingly well, but they've come up with 17 interceptions and have done a good job toughening up in the red zone this year.
Lovie Smith refuses to admit it, but the evaluation process for next season has already begun no matter how much he postures about potentially sweeping a bitter rival.
Todd Korth: The Packers should win this game simply because they have the better team, but the Bears had the better team last year on New Year's Eve and look what happened. As long as the Packers don't turn the ball over five times like on Oct. 7, they will win. They've been pretty good at protecting the ball lately, so when all is said and done Sunday afternoon ...
PACKERS 28, BEARS 10
John Crist: The offensive line is in shambles. The running game is dead last in the league. The quarterback is coming off his first start in two years. The defensive line is plugging in people off the street. The safeties keep missing tackles. The secret weapon on special teams, Devin Hester, isn't getting enough chances. And when you add it up, there is very little reason for Bears fans to be optimistic Sunday ...
PACKERS 27, BEARS 13