By Dan Durkin-
(CBS) Sunday night’s primetime game between the Chicago Bears (3-5) and Green Bay Packers (5-3) at Lambeau is the 190th installation of the NFL’s longest-running rivalry. The Packers have dominated the series of late, winning 10 of the last 12.
Coming off a bye week, both teams should be fresh for a game with huge implications on how the second half of the season will work out for both teams.
Here are five matchups to focus on during Sunday night’s action.
Chicago cornerback Kyle Fuller vs. Packers wide receiver Jordy Nelson — In their first meeting back in Week 4, Nelson had his way with the Bears’ secondary, racking up 10 catches for 108 yards and two touchdowns. The Bears chose not to shadow Nelson with Fuller, but they may be best served to do so this time. Despite being short on experience, Fuller has proved to be the Bears’ most trustworthy cornerback. The Bears would be wise to duplicate the Saints’ game plan of matching up their best cornerback on Nelson with safety help over the top.
Chicago cornerback Tim Jennings vs. Packers wide receiver Randall Cobb — Whether Bears defensive coordinator Mel Tucker elects to do it or not remains to be seen, but he would be wise to also mirror Cobb with Jennings. The Packers like to move Cobb around, typically deploying him from the slot in an attempt to get him matched up against nickel cornerbacks, safeties and linebackers. Jennings has enough lateral quickness and is willing to challenge releases off the line of scrimmage.
Chicago defensive tackle Jeremiah Ratliff vs. the interior of the Packers’ offensive line — Both left guard Josh Sitton (toe) and right guard T.J. Lang are listed as questionable for Green Bay. If either is unavailable, the Packers would be forced to turn to second-year players Lane Taylor and JC Tretter. Getting quarterback Aaron Rodgers — who is dealing with a hamstring injury — off his spot will be critical for the Bears. Thus, the interior of the defensive line plays an even bigger role in pressing the pocket. Ratliff is the Bears’ most dominant interior defensive lineman and has been stout against the run and is flashing first-step quickness in his pass rush sets.
Chicago left guard Michael Ola vs. Packers defensive tackle Mike Daniels — The Packers’ defensive front is giving up more rushing yards per game than any team in the league, but one bright spot has been Daniels, who plays with active hands and low pads. Ola is the likely substitute for Matt Slauson at left guard, who has been Chicago’s best run blocker this season. The Bears figure to test the Packers with inside-zone runs and traps, so Ola’s ability to get movement on Daniels will be crucial.
Chicago wide receiver Brandon Marshall vs. Packers cornerback Sam Shields — The first time these two teams met, Marshall was still early in his recovery from an ankle injury. Shields is a quality cover cornerback who figures to frequently match up against Marshall. Despite the size difference, Shields plays physically and will challenge Marshall’s release off the line with jams and press coverage and is quick to locate the ball in flight in order to break up passes. This will be a physical matchup to follow all game.
Dan Durkin covers the Bears for CBSChicago.com and is a frequent contributor to 670 The Score. Follow him on Twitter at @djdurkin.