Wk 3 Game Scout: Bears at Packers

We have everything you need to know as Green Bay visits Chicago in a clash of 2-0 teams on Monday night at Soldier Field.

Green Bay Packers (2-0) at Chicago Bears (2-0)

Kickoff: Monday, 7:30 p.m.

TV: ESPN (Mike Tirico, Ron Jaworski, Jon Gruden).

By the numbers: The Packers rank 15th in offense (14th in rushing, 16th in passing) and third in defense (28th in rushing and third in passing). The Bears rank fifth in offense (tied for 28th in rushing and third in passing) and 12th in defense (first in rushing, 27th in passing). Third down is always important, with the Packers fifth in offense (50.0 percent) and 11th in defense (36.0 percent) and the Bears a woeful 26th in offense (28.0 percent) and 13th in defense (37.0 percent).

Keys to the game: Bears QB Jay Cutler has been consistently sliding within the pocket to buy time behind a shaky offensive line, and RB Matt Forte' will again be an important outlet. Packers OLB Clay Matthews has 3.0 sacks in each of the first two games, and the Bears get stuck in plenty of third-and-long situations due to their pedestrian ground game. Green Bay's running game is also struggling minus Ryan Grant. The question is whether Chicago's front seven can apply enough pressure to keep QB Aaron Rodgers from picking apart the secondary.

Fast facts: Matthews is the first player in franchise history with consecutive three-sack games. ... Cutler's teams are 17-0 in his career when he has a passer rating over 100. ... Bears lead regular-season series 90-82-6. Packers won both games last season, 21-15 at Lambeau Field and 21-14 at Soldier Field. In a Monday night game two years ago the Bears won in overtime 20-17 at Soldier Field.

Packers injury report

Questionable: LB Brad Jones (knee), DE Mike Neal (side/rib), S Charlie Peprah (quad), DE Ryan Pickett (hamstring). Probable: LB Desmond Bishop (hamstring), LT Chad Clifton (knees), G Daryn Colledge (knee), TE Tom Crabtree (arch), FB Korey Hall (hip), DE Cullen Jenkins (hand), S Derrick Martin (ankle), LB Clay Matthews (hamstring), LB Brady Poppinga (knee), CB Brandon Underwood (shoulder), CB Charles Woodson (toe).

Bears injury report

Out: LT Chris Williams (hamstring), S Major Wright (hamstring). Probable: LB Lance Briggs (ankle), DT Israel Idonije (foot), LB Brian Iwuh (quad), LB Nick Roach (hamstring).

Inside the Bears

Even though Jay Cutler's 121.2 passer rating is the NFL's best, there are a few areas in the Bears' passing game that need tweaking.

Although Cutler was only sacked once against the Cowboys, he was knocked around repeatedly in the first quarter. But he got up every time and wound up having his most productive game as a Bear. He was asked if overcoming the rough treatment and early adversity made his game-winning performance even more satisfying.

"Satisfying? I'd rather not take the (hits) and still do it at the end," he said with a laugh. "I was proud of the offensive line. We were under some stress early on and were a little bit shaken, but we pulled it together. I thought Frank (Omiyale) did a fabulous job over there (at left tackle) of just stepping in there and taking charge of the situation. If we can make those changes and adjust on the run like that all year long, then we're going to be in good shape."

With No. 1 left tackle Chris Williams unable to practice on the injured hamstring that knocked him out of the Dallas game on the first series, Omiyale will be back at left tackle on Monday night against the Packers. Kevin Shaffer will again fill in at right tackle.

Coach Lovie Smith said he's fine with that arrangement, although he doesn't have much choice.

"I'm very confident," Smith said. "We beat a good football team with that combination. So yeah, we feel real good about that. Our entire group of linemen gives us flexibility. The guys we had on the 53-man roster going in, you have to feel good about them playing at some time during the course of a 16-game regular season and into the playoffs. Normally it happens that way. So yes, we feel real good about the group we're going to put out there this week."

And even if Cutler takes a few more shots, history says that's nothing that he can't handle. The 6-3, 233-pounder has never missed an NFL game because of an injury, which he shrugs off.

"It's a little bit of luck," Cutler said. "I don't know. Hopefully I stay lucky."

Four years ago at the Scouting Combine, Cutler impressed onlookers by bench-pressing 225 pounds 23 times, an unheard of and unattainable number for most quarterbacks. At least partial credit for Cutler's durability should go to his dedication to preparing for the hard knocks that come with the position.

"Some of it is that," Cutler said. "You don't want to get hit as a quarterback. They try to limit it as much as possible. But we've got to be prepared for it, doing whatever you've got to do in the weight room in the offseason to get ready for the punishment because it is a long season."

Cutler's ability to walk off the rough treatment he got from the Cowboys wasn't lost on offensive coordinator Mike Martz.

"Nothing fazed him," Martz said. "His control of this game, his awareness; he was very calm. He knew exactly what needed to be done. We'd go over and talk to him about that (and say), 'Here's what we're going to do on the next series, here's what you can expect.' Got it, and off he goes."

Hits, what hits? Asked how many shots he took to the head in Cowboys Stadium, Cutler said: "I don't know. I forgot."


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Bill Huber is publisher of Packer Report magazine and PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at packwriter2002@yahoo.com, or leave him a question in Packer Report's subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at twitter.com/packerreport and Facebook under Bill Huber.


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