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Chicago Bears @ Green Bay Packers: Essential matchups

Green Bay Packers cornerback LaDarius Gunter. Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports
Green Bay Packers cornerback LaDarius Gunter. Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports /
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Green Bay Packers cornerback LaDarius Gunter. Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports
Green Bay Packers cornerback LaDarius Gunter. Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports /

Alshon Jeffery versus Ladarius Gunter

Following a three-game stretch in which Chicago’s top vertical threat and primary go-to receiver was targeted only 18 times, Alshon Jeffery reemerged as the top big-play artist in the Bears’ passing game by recording seven catches for 90 yards on a season-high 13 targets.

The 6-foot-3 wideout’s length and ability to high point the ball will be quite a challenge for Ladarius Gunter, who has the size and leaping skills to at least use his big body to contest the fifth-year veteran.

Even on his best days, Jeffery has average speed and isn’t used much on underneath routes that require pass catchers to quick break in and out of their routes. Instead, the South Carolina native is a long-strider that beats defenders by effectively using his hands off the line of scrimmage and changing his speeds.

Although he’s yet to hit pay dirt thus far, Jeffery remains Chicago’s best scoring weapon given his ability to run fade routes to the back of the end zone. During his last full 16-game season in 2014, the former second-round draft pick scored six of his 10 touchdowns from 10 yards or less.

Gunter was beaten short and deep versus the Cowboys in an abysmal performance that saw the 24-year-old take over as the Packers’ top cover man on the left side of the field following Damarious Randall’s game-ending groin injury.

Whether he was tripping over himself in his backpedal or getting burned off the line of scrimmage, Gunter looked like a fish out of water in Week 6. Dak Prescott took advantage of those shortcomings and posted  a 156.3 passer rating when throwing in his direction.

Cheesehead supporters can only hope the 6-foot-2, 201-pound member of the secondary regains some confidence after poring over game film of his most recent performance.

The truth is Gunter came out of college with 4.69 speed and will risk getting torched the longer he remains on the field. Corners with his speed typically get shifted to safety.

Ironically, the former Miami Hurricane was coming off a strong showing prior to the Dallas game and perhaps couldn’t handle the pressure of playing the Sam Shields role as others have also suggested.

Regardless, Gunter will have his hands full with Jefferey and must use his length and physicality to disrupt his man’s timing off the line of scrimmage along with showing better instincts with his back to the ball.

Allowing Jeffery to gain his customary 60-70 yards won’t be the end of the world, but getting beat for one or more touchdowns is something that can’t happen especially if that puts the Packers in the uncomfortable position of playing from behind.

Expect Dom Capers to immediately apply double coverage on Jefferey if things immediately go south.

Advantage: Bears