National Football League
Packers-Bears Preview
National Football League

Packers-Bears Preview

Published Sep. 9, 2015 10:07 p.m. ET

Despite losing one of the NFL's top receivers, the Green Bay Packers are confident they'll remain a Super Bowl contender.

Coach Mike McCarthy certainly believes they can continue their dominance over the Chicago Bears.

The Packers can do so with a sixth consecutive road victory over the new-look Bears on Sunday.

After the sting of choking away last season's NFC championship game at Seattle subsided, Green Bay received another blow when Jordy Nelson suffered a season-ending knee injury last month. While the loss of a three-time 1,200-plus-yard receiver would be devastating for most teams, the Packers still have Aaron Rodgers under center, Eddie Lacy in the backfield and above-average targets in Randall Cobb, second-year talent Davante Adams and the recently re-acquired James Jones.


''That's one of the things that I think this system allows us to do is adjust and adapt,'' assistant coach Alex Van Pelt said. ''I don't think there's anybody better in the league at making adjustments than Aaron.''

Rodgers led the NFC with 38 touchdowns and his five interceptions were the fewest among any quarterback to play in all 16 games last year. His 4,381 passing yards were the third-most of his career for a team that led the NFL averaging 30.4 points.

"There is no one way to stop a great quarterback like himself," new Bears defensive coordinator Vic Fangio said.

Despite a sore shoulder, Cobb expects to play after setting career highs with 91 receptions, 1,287 yards and 12 TDs. Adams showed promised with 121 yards against New England in November and 117 with a TD on seven catches in the 26-21 playoff win over Dallas.

Lacy, meanwhile, was seventh in the NFL with 1,139 yards and also caught 42 passes for 427.

The Packers also return most of a defense that helped yield an average 19.6 points while winning seven of the final eight regular season contests.

''The chemistry's strong but just like anybody, you have to sharpen your sword,'' offensive line coach James Campen said. ''There's no question. There's work to be done.''

McCarthy had no trouble pumping up Packer fans when he playfully said at a recent local chamber of commerce luncheon that "we will kick Chicago's (behind)."

Considering Green Bay has won three straight and 11 of 13 regular-season and playoff meetings with Chicago, the Bears can't guarantee that won't happen again. Green Bay handed them an embarrassing 55-14 loss at Lambeau Field the last time they met Nov. 9.

Including the NFC championship game during the 2010 season, the Packers have outscored the Bears 140-89 to win five straight at Soldier Field. Rodgers has thrown for 1,208 yards with 12 TDs and three picks to post a 69.5 passer rating in the last four regular-season matchups at Chicago.

However, with veteran coach John Fox now in charge, his former assistant at Denver Adam Gase running the offense and Fangio overseeing the defense, Rodgers and Co. face a new challenge Sunday.

"You look at that roster, there's not a lot of names you recognize playing against," Rodgers said. "You have to put some extra preparation in."

After second-year coach Marc Trestman and general manager Phil Emery were fired followed last season's 5-11 performance, Chicago gave former New Orleans executive Ryan Pace his first general manager job.

The Bears restored some credibility by hiring Fox, who went 119-89 in 13 seasons with Carolina and Denver, and guided both to the Super Bowl.

''At the end of the day, hopefully if we work as hard as we can, we'll get to where we want to,'' said veteran receiver Eddie Royal, who played for Fox in Denver.

Under Fangio, Chicago switched from 4-3 to a 3-4 defensive scheme.

Gone are longtime stalwarts Lance Briggs and Charles Tillman. In are linebacker Pernell McPhee, defensive end Jarvis Jenkins and safety Antrel Rolle to help improve a defense that allowed 27.6 points and 377.1 yards per contest.

Offensively, Chicago has already been hit hard by injuries with seventh overall pick receiver Kevin White (leg) on the physically-unable-to-perform list and top receiver Alshon Jeffery (calf) uncertain for Sunday.

Matt Forte topped the 1,000-yard rushing mark for a third straight season but averaged 3.9 per carry. He also set an NFL single-season record for most receptions by a running back with 102 in 2014.

Hoping to cut down Forte's overall workload, the Bears brought in Jacquizz Rodgers from Atlanta and drafted Michigan State's Jeremy Langford.

However, Chicago's offensive success remains on the shoulders of Jay Cutler, who is playing under his fifth coordinator since arriving in 2009. Cutler threw a career-high 28 TDs last season but the 18 INTs matched the second-most for his career.

Gase, however, expects to utilize Cutler's ability to move outside the pocket more.

''I think we all know that his athletic ability for a guy his size is pretty unique; there's not a lot of guys like him,'' Gase said. ''We'll try to do what we need to do within a game."

What Cutler needs is to snap a personal eight-game skid, including playoffs, to Green Bay.

Since coming to Chicago, Cutler has completed 56 percent of his passes with 13 TDs, 22 picks and posted a 62.7 rating while going 1-10 against the Packers.

"All that stuff is in the past," he said. "We'll worry about the game Sunday."


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