Behind Enemy Lines: Part III

Our Scout.com experts, Bill Huber of Packer Report and John Crist of Bear Report, go Behind Enemy Lines to take a closer look at Sunday's Week 11 matchup between the Packers and rival Bears at Lambeau Field. Let's finish this three-part series with some matchups to watch and final predictions.

MATCHUPS TO WATCH: BEARS OFFENSE VS. PACKERS DEFENSE
RB Matt Forte vs. LB A.J. Hawk:
Hawk takes over for injured Nick Barnett at middle linebacker and will be charged with improving one of the league's worst run defenses. Hawk certainly has the talent to succeed, but he's a novice at the position and will be getting up close and personal with standout Bears center Olin Kreutz.

On the other side of the ball, Forte isn't playing like a rookie. He's earned attention from the Packers' defense because of his physical style and vision. Forte is one of the top receiving backs in the NFL, and Hawk's struggles in pass defense earned him a seat on the bench at times earlier this season.

TEs Desmond Clark and Greg Olsen vs. FS Nick Collins and SS Atari Bigby: It's safe to say that Green Bay's cornerbacks are better than Chicago's wide receivers, so it will most likely be up to Clark and Olsen to do some damage through the air. Since Rashied Davis and Marty Booker can't be expected to beat Charles Woodson and Al Harris consistently, Clark and Olsen have to work the middle of the field and get some separation from Collins and Bigby. The Packers have made a ton of big plays in the secondary and seem to register a pick-six every week, although neither of their hard-hitting safeties is a particularly great cover guy.

Rex Grossman couldn't get the tight ends involved last Sunday against the Titans, but Kyle Orton has more success on short and intermediate throws and should jumpstart the air attack as a result.

MATCHUPS TO WATCH: PACKERS OFFENSE VS. BEARS DEFENSE
Green Bay Offensive Line vs. Chicago Defensive Line:
Last week at Minnesota, the Packers' offensive line was demolished by the Vikings' aggressive front seven. The Bears' defensive line isn't quite as good as the Vikings', but Chicago has a superior linebacker corps led by Brian Urlacher and Lance Briggs.


WR Jordy Nelson
Greg Trott/Getty Images

Bears coach Lovie Smith, a defense-first guy to begin with, no doubt will try to attack Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers in much the same way. If the Packers' blockers are up to the task, there will be big plays available routinely against Chicago's suspect secondary. If not, it will be another long, painful day for Rodgers and the Packers' offense.

Green Bay Big 5 vs. Chicago Secondary: As if the Bears weren't having enough trouble defending the pass this season, now they have to face the Packers and arguably the deepest crop of receivers in the league. Both Greg Jennings and Donald Driver are on pace for 70-plus receptions, James Jones and Ruvell Martin can present major matchup problems because of their size, and rookie Jordy Nelson has already delivered a few big plays this season. Green Bay hasn't deployed its Big 5 formation too often yet because Jones has missed some time with injury, but this is the week to empty the backfield and play some backyard football – especially since the Bears don't feature a dime package in their defensive scheme.

Of the 10 starting quarterbacks Chicago has faced so far this season, five of them have put up their season best in terms of passing yards.

THE BEARS WILL WIN THIS GAME IF ...
... their defense starts forcing mistakes again and decidedly wins the turnover battle. You have to give Orton and Forte credit for taking care of the football all year long, but there have been times this season when a Chicago D that's predicated on takeaways hasn't been able to make things happen. Rodgers doesn't take as many chances as Brett Favre did all those years, meaning the Bears may have to be extra aggressive stripping the ball from backs and wideouts.

THE BEARS WILL LOSE THIS GAME IF ...
... the rest of the offense doesn't find a way to take some of the pressure off Forte. The Packers have the 30th-ranked run defense in the NFL and just lost their middle linebacker to injury, so they'll be selling out at all costs to shut down the ground game and dare the Bears to beat them through the air. The Midway Monsters don't have to throw for 300 yards or anything, but the quarterback needs to be effective, the receivers need to make some plays, and the line needs to give the rookie some room to roam.

THE PACKERS WILL WIN THIS GAME IF ...
... they give Rodgers time to throw the ball. The Bears' pass defense has been riddled by the likes of Dan Orlovsky and Kerry Collins the last couple of weeks. Rodgers is far better than those guys, plus he's got one of the NFL's top receiving units at his disposal. The Packers have the potential to have a breakout performance on Sunday. Or they could be pounded again.


RB Matt Forte
Andy Lyons/Getty Images

THE PACKERS WILL LOSE THIS GAME IF ...
... Forte is the latest running back to rush for 100 yards against the Packers' beleaguered defense. There's nothing more demoralizing to a defense (and the home fans) than seeing a running back pick up five yards on every carry or setting up a parade of third-and-1 opportunities. Limit Forte, set up third-and-longs and take your chances with Orton (or Grossman) against the Packers' superlative secondary. That has to be the recipe for success.

FINAL PREDICTIONS
John Crist:
Even though Grossman sports a career 3-0 record at Lambeau Field, Chicago stands its best chance to win this game if Orton returns to the starting lineup and picks up where he left off before the ankle injury. Forte should have a big day on the ground because there are holes in the Green Bay front seven, but it isn't the offensive side of the ball that should have Bears fans worried. This is not a good matchup for their secondary with all the receiving threats the Packers feature, so I see Lovie Smith suffering his first loss in Titletown ... PACKERS 27, BEARS 20.

Bill Huber: This one is easy, so says the guy who is 4-5 in his pre-game predictions: More times than not, when a team facing a must-win game takes on a team that isn't in such dire straits, the team that needs the win gets the win. With their backs against the wall, the offensive line responds with a strong performance and Rodgers makes enough key completions. With a late turnover making the final seem more lopsided ... PACKERS 31, BEARS 20.

To go back and read Part I, where John answers five questions from Bill, Click Here. For Part II, where Bill answers five questions from John, Click Here.

Bill Huber is the Lead Analyst for Packer Report. John Crist is the Publisher of Bear Report.


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