Behind Enemy Lines: Part III

Our Scout.com experts, John Crist of Bear Report and Bill Huber of Packer Report, go Behind Enemy Lines for an analysis of Sunday's Week-1 matchup between the Bears and Packers at Lambeau Field in Green Bay. Let's wrap up this three-part series with matchups to watch and final predictions.

MATCHUPS TO WATCH: BEARS OFFENSE VS. PACKERS DEFENSE
TE Greg Olsen vs. LBs and DBs:
Olsen, one of the game's rising stars at tight end, lines up everywhere and presents a real matchup problem.

The Packers defense showed one flaw in the preseason, and that was the middle of the pass defense. Neither inside linebacker A.J. Hawk nor safety Atari Bigby are great in coverage, and inside linebacker Nick Barnett is still sort of an unknown as he comes back from a torn ACL.

WR Devin Hester vs. CBs Al Harris and Charles Woodson: Nobody outside the Windy City believes Hester has what it takes to be a No. 1 receiver in this league, but he'll have a chance to prove those doubters wrong right out of the gate in Week 1. Harris and Woodson are both notoriously tough near the line of scrimmage, and Chicago wideouts were dreadful last year getting off the jam. Hester is fast enough to run circles around both Green Bay corners, but that won't matter if he can't get into his routes.

If Olsen can occupy the middle of the field and keep those safeties busy, then Hester will have room to roam provided he gets that initial separation.

MATCHUPS TO WATCH: PACKERS OFFENSE VS. BEARS DEFENSE
Right side of the OL vs. Left side of the DL:
The Packers like the potential of right guard Josh Sitton and right tackle Allen Barbre, but at this point, it's only potential. Sitton has two career starts, which is two more than Barbre.

Left end Adewale Ogunleye and three-technique tackle Tommie Harris will provide a tremendous measuring stick.

TE Jermichael Finley vs. LB Pisa Tinoisamoa: Not only does Green Bay have a stable full of wide receivers ready to make big plays when called upon, but Finley leapfrogged Donald Lee on the depth chart and could be a great tight end one day. Tinoisamoa was a weak-side linebacker with the Rams, meaning he had to cover backs in the passing game. But now that he's on the strong side, he needs to prove he can handle bigger and stronger tight ends in coverage.

The Bears are in big trouble if Tinoisamoa can't keep Finley in check by himself and needs safety help, as that will open up even more one-on-one looks for the likes of Greg Jennings and Donald Driver down the field.


TE Jermichael Finley
Getty Images: Jonathan Daniel

GREEN BAY WINS IF ...
... they take care of the ball. In the last six games of this series, the winning team is plus-14 in turnovers. Judging by the preseason — a dangerous proposition, obviously — only the Packers can beat the Packers.

GREEN BAY LOSES IF ...
... the preseason was fool's gold. For a Packers defense that had so many problems last season, the Bears provide a perfect challenge with a big-time passer, a versatile runner and a pair of tight ends that can test the soft middle of the Packers' pass defense. On offense, the new-look attack was fantastic in the preseason, but that was against three average to below-average defenses.

CHICAGO WINS IF ...
... brand new defensive line coach Rod Marinelli is worthy of the high praise being thrown his way and gets more production out of the front four. While the Bears are questionable in the secondary at both corner and safety, all the DBs can benefit from a better pass rush than they saw a year ago. But if Aaron Rodgers has time to pat the football and go through his progressions comfortably in the pocket, he might tilt the scoreboard at Lambeau Field.

CHICAGO LOSES IF ...
... they assume Jay Cutler is good enough to win ballgames by himself, without the help of a strong running game, competent defense and solid special teams. If that was the case, then Cutler wouldn't have assembled an unimpressive 17-20 record as a starter in Denver. The Midway Monsters better get off to a quick start at Lambeau Field and keep the playbook open from front to back, especially because the Packers have a handful of defensive backs that know how to pick off a pass.

FINAL PREDICTIONS
Bill Huber:
Who's ahead? The Packers' new-look defense or the Bears' revamped offense? Dom Capers, one of the NFL's all-time great defensive coordinators, appears to have everyone on the same page and believing the scheme will be a rousing success. PACKERS 27, BEARS 13.

John Crist: Since Green Bay features one of the best passing games in the NFL and looks primed to do some major damage through the air this season, Chicago couldn't have a worse matchup in the opener. Even if Charles Tillman does line up at his familiar left cornerback position, he's had two surgeries since he last put on a uniform and will be surrounded by inexperience in the secondary. Look for Cutler and Co. to move the ball consistency against the Pack's new 3-4 system, but not enough to get the job done. PACKERS 27, BEARS 23.

To go back and read Part I of this Behind Enemy Lines series, where Bill answered five questions from John, Click Here. To read Part II, where John answered five questions from Bill, Click Here.


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John Crist is the publisher of BearReport.com. Bill Huber is a publisher of PackerReport.com.


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