Behind Enemy Lines: Part III

BearReport.com's John Crist and PackerReport.com's Todd Korth break down Sunday night's game between the Bears and Packers at Lambeau Field in Green Bay with matchups to watch, game scenarios, and final predictions in Behind Enemy Lines Part III.

Matchup to watch when the Packers are on offense:
QB Brett Favre vs. Chicago's secondary
Favre has been passing the ball nearly 50 times a game this season, and with Charles Tillman hurting and Nathan Vasher possibly not playing on Sunday, look for the Packers to continue with their pass-happy offense. The Packers probably will go right at whomever replaces Vasher from the get-go.

Matchup to watch when the Packers are on defense:
DE Aaron Kampman vs. OT Fred Miller
Compared to the 15.5 sacks he had in his Pro-Bowl season last year, Kampman is off to a slow start with 2.5 sacks. But he has been putting pressure on opposing quarterbacks and bringing them down a half-yard or yard past the line of scrimmage, which count as tackles but not sacks. Kampman plays on base and passing downs.


DE Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

Matchup to watch when the Bears are on offense:
OT John St. Clair vs. DE Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila
Left tackle John Tait came out of last Sunday's game with an ankle injury and has not practiced all week, so St. Clair, who himself admits that he's more comfortable on the right side, will most likely get the nod in his place. KGB technically is not a starter anymore, but he still gets to the quarterback with regularity and has registered 4.5 sacks as a pass-rush specialist. The Bears have already allowed 15 sacks in four games as opposed to only 25 all of last season, plus Brian Griese is even less mobile than the lead-footed Rex Grossman.

Matchup to watch when the Bears are on defense:
DE Mark Anderson vs. OT Chad Clifton
The Bears are dropping like flies in the secondary and were missing all four opening-day starters last week in Detroit, but the front four has still done an amazing job of putting consistent pressure on enemy QBs. The Midway Monsters are tied atop the NFL standings with 16 sacks, and the second-year pro Anderson, who compiled 12 sacks as a fifth-round rookie last season, is once again leading the charge. Clifton missed practice Thursday with an illness but is expected to play, so look for him to have his hands full all evening long trying to keep Anderson at bay.

The Packers will win this game if ...
Green Bay will have to limit Devin Hester like it did when the two teams met last season on New Year's Eve, and the offense has to control the ball. As long as Favre doesn't throw multiple interceptions, the Packers should be able to move the ball against the banged-up Bears.

The Packers will lose this game if ...
Against the Vikings, the Packers fumbled the ball four times and lost two of those fumbles, including a botched handoff to running back Ryan Grant late in the game that gave the Vikings a chance to tie the score.

The Bears will win this game if ...
... they start forcing turnovers again. The Packers are 4-0 and one of the best stories in the NFL right now, but the fact that they can't run the football – dead last in the league at 54.3 yards per game – means their offense should start to become increasingly predictable. Lovie Smith's defense has always been about forcing turnovers, and while Favre has pulled in his own reigns to some degree this season and is being more careful with the football, he's always had that gunslinger reputation and will give opposing defenses a few chances to capitalize on his high-risk decisions.

The Bears aren't doing enough on offense right now to win a turnover-free ballgame, so it's up to the defense to force some mistakes, flip the field position, and maybe even find the end zone with an interception or fumble return.


RB Adrian Peterson
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

The Bears will lose this game if ...
... the offense continues to turn the ball over at such an alarming pace. The quarterback switch was primarily made because Grossman was giving away the football way to often for Smith's liking, but Griese still threw three picks last Sunday in Detroit – two in the red zone and one returned 64 yards for a TD. On top of that, both Cedric Benson and Adrian Peterson have had ball-security issues in the early going, especially Benson with three fumbles already – two lost – after not putting the ball on the ground once last season.

The defense is still playing well enough to prevent the Packers from driving up and down the field at will, so Griese and Co. must win the field-position battle and put the ball in the end zone when opportunities are presented.

FINAL PREDICTIONS
Todd Korth:
The Bears are reeling and hurting all at the same time. The Packers are riding a winning streak that has stretched to eight games dating back to last season. It's a Sunday night game, and look for the Lambeau Field crowd's enthusiasm to ignite the Packers to another win ...
PACKERS 27, BEARS 13

John Crist: I have been a believer in Green Bay since the beginning because their defense got better and better over the course of last season, although I did not expect them to take control of the NFC North as they have already. The Bears are a little healthier on defense this week than they were last week, but the secondary will still be paper-thin because both starting cornerbacks, Tillman and Vasher, should be in street clothes. The special teams have been very good so far highlighted by the wizardry of Hester, but the offense is too inconsistent and the defense is too banged up to win a tough road game in prime time right now …
PACKERS 23, BEARS 13

John Crist is the Editor in Chief of BearReport.com. Todd Korth is the Publisher of PackerReport.com.


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