Saturday, September 25, 2010

NFC North showdown is Game of the Week

A strong start by the Packers and a surprising start by the Bears sets up this week’s game of the week.

The rivals face off in a Monday Night Football match up with first place in the NFL North up for grabs.

Green Bay enters the week following a nail-biter win over Philadelphia and a no-nonsense blowout against the over-matched Bills.

Chicago has flexed some muscle in the passing game with quarterback Jay Cutler throwing for five touchdowns and one interception through two weeks.

Cutler and the Bears’ offense will meet their toughest challenge to date as the Packers are ranked third in total defense and is the No. 3 team defending the pass.

Through two weeks, Green Bay has limited teams to an average of 116.5 yards through the air. Meanwhile, the Chicago offense is averaging 316 yards via the pass. Whichever team can assert their authority in this aspect of the game should have the upper-hand in the contest.

Aaron Rodgers passed for 255 yards and two TDs last week. He has four touchdowns and two interceptions on the season. His numbers could go up with Donald Driver, Greg Jennings and Jermichael Finley as targets. Charles Tillman has played well at cornerback for the Bears, but Zach Bowman has the potential to be a liability. Whoever lines up against Bowman could have a big night.

The passing game for each team is crucial considering each team’s running game is a little less certain. The Bears have only rushed for 139 yards this season, but running back Matt Forte has been more effective catching the ball in screens and swing passes.

Green Bay is without Ryan Grant, who rushed for 1,200 yards the last two seasons, after a season-ending injury. Brandon Jackson rushed 11 times for 29 yards and a touchdown in his first start in the wake of Grant’s injury. Chicago has allowed an average of 28 yards rushing a game, which is the top mark in the league.

The game could be boiled down to the Packers pass defense versus the Bears run defense. Because Chicago will rely more on the pass than Green Bay will on the run, the scales may tip in the Pack’s favor.

I’m calling for the shoot-out with the last score likely being the winning score. In a rivalry game, nothing is for certain.

Prediction: Green Bay 35, Chicago 34.

Other NFL action:

Josh: N.Y. Giants over Tennessee, 31-30

Anthony: Tennessee over N.Y. Giants, 31-17

Josh: New England over Buffalo, 35-7

Anthony: New England over Buffalo, 27-10

Josh: Baltimore over Cleveland, 17-6

Anthony: Baltimore over Cleveland, 17-3

Josh: Tampa Bay over Pittsburgh, 14-10

Anthony: Pittsburgh over Tampa Bay 17-14

Josh: Cincinnati over Carolina, 24-17

Anthony: Cincinnati over Carolina, 27-14

Josh: New Orleans over Atlanta, 34-17

Anthony: Atlanta over New Orleans, 27-24 UPSET

Josh: San Francisco over Kansas City, 14-13

Anthony: San Francisco over Kansas City, 21-17

Josh: Minnesota over Detroit, 21-20

Anthony: Minnesota over Detroit, 21-3

Josh: Houston over Dallas, 31-28

Anthony: Houston over Dallas, 31-21

Josh: Washington over St. Louis, 28-3

Anthony: Washington over St. Louis, 24-14

Josh: Philadelphia over Jacksonville, 31-28

Anthony: Philadelphia over Jacksonville, 38-14

Josh: Indianapolis over Denver, 28-27

Anthony: Indianapolis over Denver, 31-13

Josh: San Diego over Seattle, 35-14

Anthony: San Diego over Seattle, 28-17

Josh: Oakland over Arizona, 17-14 UPSET

Anthony: Arizona over Oakland, 21-9

Josh: N.Y. Jets over Miami, 24-21

Anthony: N.Y. Jets over Miami, 23-20

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