The Green Bay Packers vs. the Chicago Bears is the oldest rivalry in the NFL. The teams have met 182 times with the Bears leading the series 92-84-6. The rivalry has taken on new relevance in recent years as the teams have battled for NFC supremacy, and both teams have made it to the Super Bowl representing the NFC within the last five years.
The last time these teams met was in last year’s NFC Championship game, where the Packers defeated the Bears 21-14 en route to their victory in Super Bowl XLV. That game is memorable for Jay Cutler’s departure in the third quarter with a knee injury. While Cutler was initially criticized, an MRI ultimately showed that he had sprained his MCL.
Keeping Cutler healthy is going to be key in this week’s rematch, as the Bears have not done a good job of protecting Cutler so far this year. They team surrendered six sacks in last week’s loss to New Orleans. The Bears are leading the league after two games with 11 sacks given up, following on the NFL-leading 56 sacks they surrendered last season.
Meanwhile, the Packers pass rush has been solid and sacked Cutler 11 times in their three meetings last season. They have been vulnerable to the pass, giving up over 400 passing yards (to Drew Brees and Cam Newton) in each of their first two games this season.
You can almost hear Bears offensive coordinator Mike Martz licking his chops as he develops an aerial attack to try to exploit the Packers secondary. But protection is going to be key. Martz accepted blame this week for a game plan last week that resulted in a lot of punishment to Cutler.
“We had one sack in the fourth quarter, then we got into a throw, throw, throw deal really sooner than what we should have,” offensive coordinator Mike Martz said. “If you’re looking for blame or reason, it’s my fault.”
Cutler commented that they can’t continue to take the kind of pounding they have taken. Cutler said. “If this continues, then obviously we’re going to have a problem and we’re going to have to adjust it.”
On the other side of the ball, Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers has been playing as well as anyone in the league, but he faces off against a Bears defense that continues to be stingy. Ultimately, Rodgers will put some points on the board, but we think the game will ultimately be decided by how well the Bears protect Cutler.
The 2-0 Packers host the 1-1 Bears at 4:15pm ET on Sunday, at Soldier Field.
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