In a week full of excitement, the Green Bay Packers and Chicago Bears had to play more than 60 minutes to pull out a victory.
Green Bay hosted the reeling Cincinnati Bengals in a Week 3 showdown at home. The Packers were missing some key players due to injury – specifically their best offensive lineman, OT David Bakhtiari. This ended up being a glaring weakness all game, as Bengals DE Carl Lawson owned GB backup LT Kyle Murphy, on his way to 2.5 sacks. Cincinnati also showed some life offensively after making the change to OC Bill Lazor, who found ways to get WR AJ Green the ball and finally let rookie RB Joe Mixon get some consistent work out of the backfield. Nonetheless, this wasn’t enough for Cincinnati to get it done, as Aaron Rodgers still threw for 313 yards and three TDs, and more importantly led the Packers on a magical drive in OT that set up a Mason Crosby game-winning FG.
Chicago is coming off one of its best performances of the season, as they defeated the Pittsburgh Steelers in a wild overtime game at home on Sunday. Their victory was propelled by a dominant performance on the ground by the Bears offense. RB Jordan Howard rushed for 138 yards and two TDs – including the game-winning 19 yard TD run in OT. Rookie RB Tarik Cohen once again proved to be an explosive piece of the offense, rushing for 78 yards on only 12 carries. The two RBs also led the Bears in receiving, with Howard catching five for 26 yards and Cohen adding four catches for 24 yards. Chicago’s defense played tough, as they held the high-powered Steelers offense to under 300 total yards – forcing two turnovers and blocking a FG attempt. The Bears were a bit sloppy in the second half, where they were held without a point, but came through when it mattered in OT, as they will look to build on this performance against rival Green Bay on Thursday.
There are few words to describe QB Aaron Rodgers play week in and week out. He is simply one of the best we’ve ever seen and proved that once again this past Sunday when he led Green Bay on a come from behind OT victory against the Cincinnati Bengals. With the Chicago Bears up next, Rodgers holds a 14-4 regular season record against them in his career, boasting a 105.7 passer rating in these 18 outings. He has uncharacteristically thrown three INTs early in the season thus far, but one shouldn’t expect this continue, as Rodgers looks poised to rack up the yards and TDs coming off a thrilling performance last Sunday.
It looks as if the injury bug has officially hit the Packers offensive line. After a sub-par performance against the Bengals, highlighted by poor play from backup LT Kyle Murphy, the Packers might need to start worrying about the unit who protects Aaron Rodgers. With an array of injuries already to this unit, including LT David Bakhtiari, RT Bryan Bulaga, and OL Jason Spriggs, there is certainly concern within the organization. Making matters worse, or maybe better, LT Kyle Murphy was added to the injury list on Monday. The good news for Packer fans is that starting LT David Bakhtiari was “estimated” to have been a limited participant if they would have practiced on Monday. Nevertheless, this is a situation worth monitoring moving forward with this team, and could potentially limit their chances at a Super Bowl run.
Thunder and Lighting
Do the Bears have the best backfield duo in the NFL? second year RB Jordan Howard, paired with rookie RB Tarik Cohen, should have Bears fans excited for the future, and the present. These two have proven to be both explosive and reliable, allowing the Bears to grind away at opponents with the ground game. Last week against the Steelers, Howard and Cohen accounted for 88% of the Bears carries and receptions, and they are both averaging over four yards per carry through the first three weeks. Jordan Howard had a slow first couple of weeks, but bounced back big against the Steelers, rushing for 138 yards and two TDs. As for Cohen, the Bears like to split his touches up in via rushing, receiving, and punt returns. He is leading Chicago in catches, receiving yards, and yards from scrimmage. Look for these two to remain the focal point for this Chicago Bears offensive attack moving forward—and for years to come.
Green Bay LB Blake Martinez vs Chicago RB Jordan Howard
LB Blake Martinez has been very solid for the Green Bay defense through the first three weeks. He leads the team in tackles, with 18, and is coming off an 11 tackles performance against the Bengals where he was flying around the field making plays. He will have his hands full this week as the Chicago rushing attack comes to town, led by RB Jordan Howard. Tied for fifth in the NFL for rushing TDs, Howard will look to build on an impressive ground performance against the Steelers, where he rushed for 138 yards and two TDs. Look for this matchup to prove pivotal throughout this game.
Fantasy football tip- Chicago RB Tarik Cohen
One of the early darlings of the fantasy season, Chicago RB Tarik Cohen continues to impress with his explosive, playmaking ability week after week. Standing small in stature, the young RB poses a threat to make a big play at anytime during a game. The Bears have suffered major injuries to their WR core, which has led them to find ways to utilize Cohen more in the receiving game. Cohen is leading the Bears in both catches (20) and receiving yards (126) through the first three weeks. He also ran for a career-high 78 yards on 12 carries against the Pittsburgh Steelers in Week 2 and had a long TD run called back after he stepped out of bounds in the OT period. Look for Chicago to find ways to get him the ball in space against Green Bay, as he should have multiple receptions and easily accumulate over 100 yards from scrimmage in this matchup.
Betting Tip- Chicago (+7.5)
This line is a tough bet this week. Aaron Rodgers has the key to success against Chicago, but the Bears strength as an offense is the Packer’s weakness as a defense. Green Bay is one of the worst teams in the NFL at stopping the run, giving up roughly 114 yards per game on the ground, likely leading the Bears to attack this defense with a heavy dose of Jordan Howard and Tarik Cohen. If the Bears can control the clock and keep Aaron Rodgers on the sideline, they won’t win the game, but they can cover the spread.
Score Prediction: Green Bay Packers 28 – 23 Chicago Bears
Aaron Rodgers and company have owned Chicago in their last eight meetings, holding a 6-2 record. However, Green Bay is only 2-2 in their last four meetings in Lambeau against their division counterpart. The Bears are a stingy team with an opportunistic defense and strong offensive duo in their backfield and are quite frankly a few plays away from being 2-1 themselves. But that doesn’t erase the fact that they have to face off against the transcendent Aaron Rodgers in primetime on Thursday night. Chicago will make some plays against a very average Green Bay defense, keeping it close for a while, but it won’t be enough as Aaron Rodgers will do what he does best, leading Green Bay to another victory against an inferior Chicago Bears team.
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