Bears Visit Packers On Thursday Night Football
By: Michael Robinson
Monday, September 10, 2012
The Green Bay Packers are in an early must-win situation when they host their NFC North rival Chicago Bears on Thursday Night Football.
The Don Best NFL odds screen opened Green Bay as 6-point favorites, but it’s now 5½ with a total of 49. This is the start of Week 2 and the NFL Network will have the 8:20 p.m. (ET) broadcast as part of their new full-season package.
Green Bay was the top team in the initial Don Best Linemakers Poll, but fell to the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday, 30-22 as 6-point home favorites. Quarterback Aaron Rodgers finished with good numbers (30-of-44 for 303 yards, two TDs and one pick), but directed the Packers offense on just one scoring drive before a second with 6:05 remaining cut the deficit to the final margin.
The Packers have now lost 2-straight at Lambeau after the 37-20 defeat to the Giants in the playoffs last year. They were 8-0 straight up and 7-1 against the spread at home in last year’s regular season.
Rodgers and the passing attack are still very dangerous, but need more help from the rushing game (45 yards on 14 carries last week). Free agent addition Cedric Benson was easily contained, but will likely be the starter again with James Starks (turf toe) out indefinitely.
Coach Mike McCarthy’s defense was the other big question heading into last game after allowing a league-worst 299.8 YPG last year. The run defense was particularly disappointing against San Fran in allowing 186 yards (5.8 ypc), while Alex Smith was an efficient 20-of-26 passing for 211 yards.
Several Pack rookies saw time on defense and will need to turn things around quickly in their second NFL game.
Chicago is feeling great about itself after an opening 41-21 win and cover over Indianapolis as 10-point home favorites. The Bears took advantage of three interceptions and a fumble by rookie quarterback Andrew Luck, likely making him wish he was back at Stanford.
The Bears new-look offense shined with receivers Brandon Marshall and rookie Alshon Jeffery combining for two TDs and almost 200 yards receiving. Michael Bush and Matt Forte added three TDs on the ground.
Quarterback Jay Cutler (333 passing yards, 98.9 rating) has to feel giddy about his new weapons, but still has to prove himself on the road. Chicago is 6-1 SU and 5-2 ATS in his home games (32.7 PPG) since last year, but just 2-2 SU and ATS on the road (20 PPG).
Coach Lovie Smith was happy to see linebacker Brian Urlacher (knee) back after missing the entire preseason. He was pulled early in the fourth as a precautionary measure. Cornerback Charles Tillman (leg) left in the second quarter and didn’t return. He’s listed as questionable and is needed against Rodgers and company.
Chicago has lost four-straight games in Green Bay (1-3 ATS). Last year’s 35-21 loss on Christmas was with Cutler (thumb) already out for the year.
The ‘under’ is 8-1 in the last nine meetings between the teams overall, although going ‘over’ in that Christmas game.
Total bettors will note the ‘over’ is 7-0 in Green Bay last seven home games, with the 52 combined points scored with San Fran breaking the 46½-point hurdle.
Green Bay can’t afford another home loss and possibly falling two games back in the division behind Chicago, Detroit and Minnesota (all Week 1 winners).