I had the privilege to sit down with Mike Burzawa, the editor over at Fansided.com’s Chicago Bears fan site Beargoggleson.com, for the weekly Q&A, getting his answers to our questions about this weekend’s Green Bay Packers vs. Bears game.
As you will see from his answers, he believes in Christmas miracle, something which isn’t out of the question … especially when these two franchises hit the field.
So, without any more delay, here is how our Q&A transpired:
1. There’s been a lot of smack this week between the two teams, more than quite some time it seems. Do you think that will add an emotional charge to this game and do you think it will make a difference?
It’s nice to see the rivalry getting a little chippy with the players since most of the smack talking is usually reserved to the fans. For the Packers, they kind of deserve to do a little talking, they’ve won 5 straight and 7 of the last 8. For the Bears, I think Brandon Marshall was being very calculated in his talking, trying to put the spotlight on himself and off the rest of his team.
I think it’s a bit of an act of desperation by the Bears. They’ve seen their season go from 7-1 and in the middle of Super Bowl discussion to 8-5 and clinging to a wild card spot. If you see more emotion on the field on Sunday, it’s because the Bears have to give everything they have in this one.
2. Both teams have been wracked by injuries this season. Which team will be impacted most from the loss of their players?
I think definitely the Bears. First of all, their injuries are on the rise as more and more guys are dropping like flies. They’re still trying to figure out how to cope with the injuries and get their backups up to speed in a hurry. Two of the Bears top defenders, Brian Urlacher and Tim Jennings have already been ruled out while a couple of key defensive linemen, Henry Melton and Shea McClellin are listed as doubtful and not expected to play. That’s not to mention Cutler, who’s like a MASH unit all to himself with a stiff neck and a sprained knee.
For the Packers, it sounds like they’re starting to get healthier. Greg Jennings is back and Clay Matthews is expected to return, so they seem to be on the rise.
It’s hard to argue with any of the facts that Finley stated – Urlacher is older and definitely a step slower. I think what most Bears fans and Lance Briggs in particular took exception to was Finley’s editorial of “they’re better off without him.” Urlacher was still leading the team in tackles and his leadership is invaluable.
4. Game plan: Do the Bears go to their run game first, like Minnesota and Detroit did, to soften up the Packers defense – and then strike through the air. Or do they come out throwing and trying to get Brandon Marshall involved early?
I really hope the Bears feature Matt Forte and the ground attack. It will not only help to soften up the Packer D, but it can help protect Jay Cutler a little bit. It was frustrating that last week the Bears let the Vikings get off to a 14-0 lead early in the first quarter and started chucking it all around the field. There was plenty of time to recover from the early deficit.
I suspect the Packers will try to take Marshall out of the game and force the ball elsewhere. Cutler and Marshall haven’t seemed to be bothered by double and triple coverage over the last few weeks, so they’ll take their shots. I definitely think the Bears will go to Marshall more often than they did in Week 2, when Marshall barely got the ball. If they can’t get it to Marshall, look for rookie Alshon Jeffery to be targeted.
Who doesn’t need to step up? I actually wrote earlier this week that this game really comes on Cutler. He’s struggled mightily versus the Pack and needs to overcome that history and his injuries to lead the Bears to a win. The defense is battered and bruised and just haven’t been making the impact plays they were early in the season, so it’s up to the offense to get it together and score some points.
6. How do you feel this one will go? Give us a final score.
Every fact and figure I examine tells me the Packers should win this game going away, but deep down I think the Bears find a way to pull this one out. Maybe the Packers can commit 19 penalties again and gift wrap an early Christmas present for Lovie Smith and the Bears? I believe in Christmas miracles and have the Bears finding a way to pull this one out 19-17.