Thursday night at Lambeau Field in Green Bay ought to be a track meet between the new look Chicago Bears offense and the old look Green Bay Packers offense.
The Bears added half a dozen offensive weapons to their arsenal, but the best one was naming Mike Tice offensive coordinator and showing his predecessor Mike Martz the door. Bears quarterback Jay Cutler is no longer obligated to make seven step drops into the waiting arms of defensive linemen. Now, he can concentrate on short, quick passes and has the authority to call audibles at the line of scrimmage.
Meanwhile, Green Bay’s offense was slowed down by an excellent San Francisco defense on Sunday. Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers never got into rhythm (largely because it was constantly being disrupted) and the Packers fell to San Francisco in what some may call an upset.
Rodgers should have no problems getting on track against the Bears. Chicago’s defense is old, creaky, has problems getting to the quarterback, has a middle linebacker playing on one leg and has their best defensive back taking treatment for a leg injury. These are not the 1985 Bears or even the 2006 defense that got to the Super Bowl. The best case scenario for Chicago is Julius Peppers getting loose in the Packers backfield. The worst case scenario for Chicago is Rodgers shredding them like tissue paper.
In any other season this might be a problem for Bears fans to deal with. After all, the Packers beat the Bears four times in one calendar year and the Bears and their fans are sick of it. This season, Cutler has people to throw to like Brandon Marshall, Alshon Jeffery and Earl Bennett. Matt Forte is one of the NFL’s most versatile backs and Michael Bush is a battering ram in the red zone.
While the Bears offensive line is porous and penalty prone, Cutler still has the ability to get rid of the ball quickly. Green Bay’s defense is very vulnerable, especially in the secondary, and if Marshall or Jeffery can get behind them and Cutler has time to throw, the Bears can put some points on the board.
It is almost comical to suggest that a Bears-Packers game could yield seventy points, but it is highly probable on Thursday night. The team that will win the game may be the team that has the ball last.