There were several disappointing teams that lost in the opening weekend of the NFL, but none was more of a shocker per se than the Green Bay Packers.
Are the San Francisco 49ers Super Bowl contenders with high hopes as well?
Yes, but the reigning MVP Aaron Rodgers and his offense were expected to rip apart the best defense in the NFL and there was nothing going until the Niners put the game on ice in the fourth quarter.
Both lines of scrimmage were absolutely exposed by the Niners, and it is not as if there is any elite talent on up front other than Clay Matthews, who is playing weak side linebacker this season.
B.J. Raji was expected to perform at a high level last season when the Pack took command and won the Super Bowl two seasons ago. However, the offensive line looked out of sync for about the first 51 minutes of their loss to the Niners.
Mason Crosby was not even given a chance to put some points on the board because the running game was inept and they had to pretty much pack it up and rely on the ability of the MVP to bail them out.
He could do no such thing with Jordy Nelson getting locked down by Carlos Rogers and a hobbled Greg Jennins (groin) was ineffective. More on Jennings in a second, but Jermichael Finley was the only positive news arguably of the entire game.
Rodgers ran for his life in this one and it was to no avail since nobody could help him out. James Jones is a talented third and fourth receiver that could start on several teams, but he was blanketed by a tremendous Niners defense.
Back to Greg Jennings because he has a vital impact in this one due to his nagging groin injury. Many believe father time would catch up to the veteran (he is turning just 29 this month), but he listed as ‘doubtful’ for Thursday night’s games against the Bears.
This is a Chicago secondary that lost Charles Tillman (hamstring) against the Colts on a special teams play, but he is listed as just ‘probable’ which gives dare I say the Bears a slight edge?
Chicago still lacks the elite talent in the back four, but Tim Jennings is a feisty corner that could give Jordy Nelson some issues thanks to his blazing speed.
Cedric Benson and Randall Cobb are splitting time in the backfield, but the former ‘Cat is more of a passing threat out of the backfield.
He is utilized as a third-down back in special packages since he is an all-purpose machine that was needed while trailing the entire game against San Francisco.
The weapons are still there for the team that went 14-3 last season, but without Jennings they lose experience and that swagger that is needed on third downs.
Chicago will counter with some firepower of their own in the dynamic duo of Jay Cutler and Brandon Marshall, who attempted to connect with each other 15 times against the Colts.
Marshall hauled in nine receptions for over 100 yards against an average Indianapolis secondary, but Tramon Williams and Charles Woodson should be a full step up in talent.
Alshon Jeffery and Earl Bennett are decent enough options to make the Packers pay just enough if they decide to gameplan around Marshall, but we should all be banking on the Bears to establish the ground game early and often.
Matt Forte can do it all for the offense looking back at the past few seasons, but with Marshall in town we are starting to see defenses avoid loading up the box.
Marshall is unstoppable in single coverage near the goal-line (think red zone), and the addition of Michael Bush could help decide the Bears postseason chances.
While Forte should still get half a dozen of TD, Bush surely is capable of double-digits in this productive offense.
Plus, despite the concerns of blocking Jay’s blindside against Clay Matthews and the Packers vaunted pass rush, this game will simply come down to the hog mollies up front.
Forte and Bush will be looking at that tape in which Kendall Hunter and Frank Gore ran bonkers on the Packers front seven, which means we should expect a ton of points even if it gets a bit damp on Thursday night.
While Green Bay comes in as slight favorites, their team is slowly dropping like flies. The lack of consistency up front could take a turn for the worst in this thriller of between the NFL’s most storied rivalry.
Note: This is the 145h meeting between these two and the last five times the Packers have started out 0-2, they have failed to make the playoffs
Network: NFL Network
Time: 8:20 p.m. Eastern
Experts Pick: Packers by 5.5
Danny V’s Pick: Bears 27, Packers 24