The Packers need to win this game. Not only is home-field still up in the air, but the team needs to recapture the momentum it has had for much of the season.
The Chiefs aren’t that good. That was one of those situations when things just fall perfectly into place for a team. New head coach (who is a heck of a lot nicer than the previous one), new QB who can throw the ball within 10 feet of his WRs (Tyler Palko may have been the worst NFL QB I’ve seen in decades) and the serious home field advantage KC enjoys. Throw all this together with a sloppy, uninspired outing by our Pack and you have an upset. That was not the real Pack and it was not the real Chiefs either.
Chicago is now simply an annoying team. The Cutler and Forte injuries have hurt them massively. They were playing much better (when both were still healthy) than I thought they would this year. But they simply have not adapted well at all. Great teams can adapt even in the face of serious adversity. Chicago is not great. They haven’t played an overly difficult schedule or anything – accounting for the recent spate of losses – they just haven’t done anything to even slightly fill the void left by these two. It’s hard to believe Caleb Hanie lasted as many games as he did – but I don’t think Josh McCown will be the answer either.
We need to pressure the ____ out of Josh McCown. He’s not a bad QB, but he’s not that good either…he wouldn’t have been available if he were good. I had suggested earlier in the week possibly moving Bishop to ROLB, benching Walden and moving Francois into Bishop’s spot. I like this idea still but I guess I do agree with some of you who worry that by moving Bishop, we’d be losing some of his unique talents in the middle (especially stopping the run and rushing the passer). Maybe move Francois to ROLB.
Why am I so high on Francois? He’s tremendously athletic and he’s looked good generally in the 2 games he’s started. But importantly, much like Bishop a few years ago – the guy makes plays. AJ Hawk doesn’t. I’m repeating myself here I know because I made the same argument for Bishop a few years ago. But Francois has started 2 games this year and he’s forced 3 turnovers – 2 interceptions and 1 forced fumble. He’s also had 3 passes defensed – to go along with a number of tackles. Compare this to Hawk who has 3 passes defensed in 13 starts this year – and no forced fumbles or picks. (In fact, Francois has forced as many turnovers in 2 games started as Hawk has going back to the beginning of the 2010 regular season and this one – 3). I don’t care how “assignment sure” Hawk is or how well he “leads the defense”. Francois has done more in 2 starts than Hawk has done all year. I know there are plenty of Hawk defenders still out there – and after his better overall play last year I can’t say defending him is a ridiculous position. But within the next year or two when we have another guy in there who does much more, I think folks will realize why I’ve been campaigning against him like I have. All this said I hope Hawk has a big-time performance tonight.
If we get more pressure, people will be reminded quickly of how talented our CBs can be when they don’t have to defend back there for 10 seconds a pass. The Bears O-Line has been beaten up this year and we should be able to rattle McCown.
Starting RB Khalil Bell will be pumped about starting and may break off a few big gainers – but I see him mostly doing nothing.
Rodgers will be playing angry tonight. The guy was really shooting for a perfect season – it’s just who he is. So I think he will be very sharp and generally very good tonight. My only concern is the Bears injuring him – especially if Rodgers is trying to win so badly that he makes some poor decisions re running the ball.
Nelson had some bad calls against him early in the game last week and I think it distracted him or something. While Rodgers was also running for his life, I think the WRs weren’t on their game last week.
Our O-Line will need to step up tonight. Peppers being out there always scares me – even when we’re at full strength. Right now we’re nowhere near full strength. Hopefully the guys got coached up this week and know the game plan. One limitation whenever there are fairly significant personnel changes on the line (I’d imagine anyway) is with playcalling. These newer guys probably don’t have much experience executing all the plays in the playbook – so McCarthy and Rodgers may be limited to some extent with playcalling.
The above point shouldn’t matter. The Bears will be exposed tonight by our high-octane offense.
I can see Chicago making a big play early and then getting all cocky about it. They’ll show guys like Urlacher and Lovie on the sideline smiling or feeling good – only to have the Packers go into route mode – and blow them out. I don’t like this game for Chicago even though they typically play us tough.