Week 4 Preview: Reinforcements Arrive in Time for Packers-Bears TNF Clash

The Packers/Bears rivalry begins and ends with history. The oldest battle in the NFL always carries the extra weight of history into every matchup.

This week's game, therefore, carries a little added significance in that the winner will take a new lead in the all-time series. Entering Thursday's game, the 194 game won/loss record is a perfect 94-94-6.

That the new leader in the series will take over after what could be another sloppy edition of Thursday Night Football will ultimately mean little in the history books. As always, all that matters is the result, and a positive result for the Packers could be harder to come by than we might have thought when we first got a look at the schedule for this year.

5 stats to think about during Thursday’s game

1. Chicago’s defense has been home cooking for the Packers’ offense. Since 2012, Packers have outscored the Bears by a margin of 240 to 120. Green Bay’s scored over 20 points in seven of their last nine matchups, too.

2. Speaking of scoring 20 points, the Packers have only won one contest against the Bears under Mike McCarthy where they scored fewer than 20 points. The season finale of the 2010 regular season at Lambeau Field saw the Packers win 10-3 thanks to a Donald Lee touchdown grab with two minutes left in the fourth quarter.

3. Aaron Rodgers has the highest passer rating, 103.2, of any quarterback who has attempted 175 or more passes against the Bears. The Packers enter Thursday’s contest with a 15-4 record against the Bears when Rodgers is the starting quarterback.

4. In Rodgers’ 19 starts against the Bears, there have only been two games in which he has not completed a pass in the end zone. Last year, Rodgers and the Packers prevailed over the Bears in thrilling fashion, but Rodgers did not throw a touchdown pass. In 2013, Rodgers left the first Packers/Bears game of the season with a broken collarbone.

In 2009, Rodgers also did not throw a touchdown pass, but he and Greg Jennings completed a two point conversion late in the game to put the Packers up 21-14.

5. The mark of a good team is their record against their divisional opponents because they match up frequently. Since Mike McCarthy was hired in 2006, the Packers have the NFL’s second-best record against their divisional opponents at 48-17-1. The Patriots hold the league’s best record in that span at 51-15.

Who could be an X-factor in Thursday’s game?

Jon says Mike Daniels.

The Bears thrive when they can run the ball, that much is clear. The Packers’ defense, meanwhile, has the potential to make life miserable for opposing ground games when Mike Daniels is healthy.

But is Mike Daniels healthy? That’s the big question.

In a normal week, Daniels would probably be a full go by Sunday. Fully two weeks removed from his hip injury, he’d probably be back to his normal shop-wrecking self by the time kickoff rolled around.

Instead, his health is subject to the shortened week of Thursday Night Football. If he can make it to the field on Thursday, I think he plays a big role in bottling up the Chicago running attack. If not, we might get to see what a ground and pound Bears team looks like at full force.

Gary says Randall Cobb.

During Sunday’s game against the Bengals, CBS analyst Tony Romo (Does it feel as weird to read that as it did to type that?) noted Cobb’s replacement Geronimo Allison struggled at times running the tight, compact routes that have made Cobb successful.

Allison, a full five inches taller than Cobb, can’t move as quickly in space and had trouble separating on short routes against the Bengals. With Cobb set to return against the Bears, Aaron Rodgers will have one of his favorite targets on third down back on the field.

What happened the last time the Packers and Bears played?

If there was a trap game in the “run the table” march from last season, it would have been the Week 15 game at Soldier Field.

The Packers were fresh off a resounding 38-10 win over the Seattle Seahawks and traveled across to face a 3-10 Chicago Bears squad expecting to start backup Matt Barkley for the fourth consecutive game. Barkley had been more or less the definition of solid but unspectacular filling in for Jay Cutler, and the Packers seemed well positioned to post another blowout.

Instead, on a frigid day in Chicago, the Packers found themselves in a dogfight.

Ty Montgomery posted his biggest game as a pro, running 16 times for 162 yards and two touchdowns, but Barkley and the Bears held on, battling back from a 27-10 second half deficit to draw even at 27 with 1:19 remaining in the fourth quarter.

Had it not been for a tremendous play by Micah Hyde to cap a red zone stand, Chicago might very well have taken a late lead.

After the kickoff, Aaron Rodgers and the Packers took over with 1:13 remaining. After two short passes, the Packers faced a 3rd and 11 on their own 26 with just 31 seconds left. Rodgers and Jordy Nelson responded with an all-time great moment.

Mason Crosby took care of business from there and the Packers escaped with a 30-27 win.

Who will win Thursday’s Packers-Bears game?

Jon says the Packers by four.

This one is going to be another entry in a long line of ugly Thursday night games. The Packers are still battered and bruised (though they are recovering slightly) and the Bears aren’t much better, sporting a not-inconsiderable seven players on their injury report as of the 25th. With both teams playing on short rest, it’s bound to be a sloppy game.

On top of that, the Bears have played the exactly the style of game so far this year that gives the Packers fits, namely relying on a stiff defensive front to pressure quarterbacks while locking down receivers on the back end. So far it’s worked wonders: they’ve allowed just three passing touchdowns and are a very confident 2-1.

I think the Packers get the edge at home, though, and will do enough to stay on top. Count me for a 27-23 win and an opportunity for the Packers to heal up a little bit at 3-1 before heading off for two rough road games.

Gary says the Packers by a field goal.

Both Chicago and Green Bay needed overtime to knock off an AFC North opponent on Sunday, and have a quick turnaround for Thursday night’s matchup. While we won’t know until kickoff who exactly will be starting on the offensive line for the Packers, Green Bay will likely see Randall Cobb, Mike Daniels, Jake Ryan and Nick Perry return to action.

In our preseason roster rankings, I rated Ryan as the Packers’ 33rd most important player, Cobb as the 14th, Daniels as the 5th and Perry as the 3rd. All four have had more than a week off, and should be fresh for the Thursday night contest, even if they aren’t 100 percent healthy.

That should be enough to hold off a Bears team that hung with the Atlanta Falcons and knocked off the Pittsburgh Steelers early on this season.