Bears Face Long Odds at Packers After Losing Jay Cutler, Lance Briggs

by NESN Staff

November 4, 2013

Aaron RodgersChicago has been dominated in recent years by Green Bay, its neighbor to the north, and it doesn’t appear likely things will change Monday night, as the Bears will take the field at Lambeau without quarterback Jay Cutler and the team’s defensive quarterback, Pro Bowl linebacker Lance Briggs. The Packers opened as 11-point favorites at Bovada, and there will be live betting.

Cutler has missed at least one game in each of the past three seasons due to injury, and that usually means bad things for the Bears, who are 2-10 in games Cutler left injured or didn’t start. In 2011, Chicago looked like one of the NFL’s best teams at 7-3, but Cutler was hurt in Week 11. Chicago went on a five-game losing streak to end any playoff hopes.

Last season entering Week 10, the Bears again looked like one of the NFL’s best teams at 7-1. However, Cutler was hurt in the first half against Houston and didn’t play after halftime. The Bears lost 13-6. The next week, with Jason Campbell starting, Chicago was dominated in a 32-7 loss at San Francisco. The Bears again went on to miss the playoffs, costing coach Lovie Smith his job.

Josh McCown will start for the Bears, his first starting gig since Week 16 of 2011, when the Bears lost 35-21 to the Packers. He was solid in relief of Cutler on Oct. 20 against the Redskins, completing 14 of 20 passes for 204 yards with a touchdown and rating of 119.6. However, McCown, an 11-year veteran, is career 58.2 percent passer with 38 touchdowns and 44 interceptions. The QBs who have replaced Cutler in Chicago have combined for a 47.8 rating with eight TDs and 22 interceptions.

As for Briggs, he hurt his shoulder against Washington and will miss around six weeks. Briggs has a team-leading 64 tackles and two sacks this season for the Bears. He was the player who received the defensive calls from the sideline. Khaseem Greene will start for Briggs, the second rookie to start at linebacker for Chicago due to injury.

The Bears, 75-1 to win the Super Bowl, won’t get any sympathy from the Packers. They are without two of Aaron Rodgers‘ top pass-catching targets in receiver Randall Cobb and tight end Jermichael Finley (as well as star linebacker Clay Matthews). Rodgers, 10-1 to win NFL MVP, simply makes do with what he has and has led the Packers to four wins in a row and first in the NFC North. Green Bay was 9-1 to win the Super Bowl entering Week 9.

Green Bay will always be good with Rodgers, but what makes the team more dangerous this season is the Packers have a running game. Green Bay is thrilled with second-round rookie Eddie Lacy. The former Alabama star has averaged a little over 24 carries for 99 yards in the winning streak. The Packers haven’t finished higher than 20th in rushing the previous three seasons and have relied solely on Rodgers.

This is the 187th meeting between the NFL’s oldest rivals, and the Pack have won six straight — covering five in a row — and eight of the past nine.

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