Packers at Bears: Tonight's preview

Our experts have everything you need to know heading into a Monday night clash at Soldier Field.

Who: Green Bay Packers (5-9) at Chicago Bears (8-6).

When: Today, 7:30 p.m. (Central).

Where: Soldier Field, Chicago (grass).

TV: ESPN (Mike Tirico, Ron Jaworski, Tony Kornheiser, Suzy Kolber, Michele Tafoya).

Series: 176th regular-season meeting. Bears lead 89-80-6 in the regular season and won the only playoff game, in 1941. Bears have won five of the past seven meetings, but the Packers destroyed them 37-3 in Green Bay on Nov. 16.

Keys to the game: The Packers know they'll see a lot of blitzes from the Bears, but they can keep the pressure to a minimum if RB Ryan Grant is able to approach the 145 rushing yards he had in the first meeting. QB Aaron Rodgers is starting to draw some criticism for not pulling out late-game drives in close losses, but he should put up big stats if given time in the pocket because of Chicago's underwhelming secondary. ... Rookie RB Matt Forte has accounted for an NFL-high 35.19 percent of the Bears' offense, but his explosiveness will be uncertain until he tests his sore toe tonight. Forte was limited to 16 carries in the first meeting with Chicago playing from behind, and the Bears need to get him involved early to attack Green Bay's poor run defense (138.2 yards per game). Also look for Chicago to take some deep shots to WR Devin Hester working against Packers CB Tramon Williams, who has been beaten for a few big plays in recent weeks.

Need to know: Packers QB Aaron Rodgers needs two touchdown passes to join Lynn Dickey, Brett Favre and Don Majkowski as the only Packers with 3,000-plus yards and 25-plus touchdowns in a season. ... Bears QB Kyle Orton has thrown six interceptions the past three games after throwing just four through the first 11.

Inside the Bears
Revenge alone probably won't be enough for the Bears to reverse the outcome of their 37-3 loss to the Packers five weeks ago in Green Bay. But considering that their victory over the Bears is the only one the Packers have in the last seven games, they're beatable. Of those last six losses, however, five have been by four points or less, so it's not like the Packers haven't been competitive despite their poor record.

The Bears know they'll have to play better in a lot of areas to pay back the Pack and keep their slim playoff hopes alive. If the Bears are looking for improvement, a great place to start would be at wide receiver, where production has decreased drastically since the game in Green Bay.

Orton said the Packers are playing the same way they did back on Nov. 16 at Lambeau Field. So, it's up to the Bears to change the way they performed in the first meeting.

"(We) just have to step up and make plays," Orton said. "They're going to be in your face. They're going to be physical. They're going to pull you and grab you, and that's fine. You can say whatever you want to say. But in the end, you've just got to come out and make plays, so that's what our focus has been on."

Packers defensive backs Al Harris, Charles Woodson and Tramon Williams challenged the Bears' wide receivers in that first game by pressing them at the line of scrimmage, and that battle clearly was won by Green Bay.

Bears wide receivers combined for a total of just four catches and 60 yards in Green Bay and, with the exception of Devin Hester, none of them have done much since then. As a group, they're getting tired of hearing that they can't beat press coverage, but they're going to keep hearing the same criticism until they disprove it. The recent numbers provide a strong indictment of the group.

"It's football," Rashied Davis said. "Everybody's physical."

Sore subject?

"Let's move forward," Davis said. "Next question, please."

Davis was asked to rate Packers cornerbacks Al Harris and Tramon Williams.

"Good," he said. "Next question."

Bears offensive coordinator Ron Turner said tonight's game presents the Bears' wide receivers with an ideal forum to quiet talk of their inability to handle press coverage.

"There's no better opportunity than this week to prove that wrong," Turner said. "Because they're going to be up there jamming them 99 percent of the time, if not 100. So they'll have a great opportunity to do something about it, if it is bothering them, which it is. They know the challenge that's out there for them, and hopefully they're looking forward to it."

Game plan
Provided the wind stays calm on a forecasted subfreezing night, Green Bay should have the opportunity to throw the football with success by spreading things out against an underwhelming Chicago secondary.

The Bears figure to give a more concerted effort than they did in the first meeting to load the box and try to corral Grant, who picked them apart for a season-high 145 rushing yards and 5.8 yards per carry. As effective as the offensive line was with run blocking in that game, the unit that is without injured right tackle Mark Tauscher will have to come up big in pass protection since the Bears probably will be inclined to pressure Rodgers — they lead the league in blitzes.

On defense, the focal point for Green Bay is to wrap up Forte, who wasn't a factor as a ball carrier in the first game because the Packers held a sizable lead for much of the game. The Bears' passing attack doesn't strike fear in opponents, but after the Packers' porous coverage efforts the last two games against the Houston Texans and the Jacksonville Jaguars, anything is possible. Green Bay's bump-and-run cornerbacks will have to refrain from being handsy downfield, with Hester having the ability to goad defenders into costly penalties.


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