OK now. We've wrapped-up our review of Sunday's game at the Metrodome by offering Free Head Exams to all involved. Now it's time to flip the switch to Monday night's matchup between the Green Bay Packers and Chicago Bears.
I'm making my way to Chicago and plan to arrive at Soldier Field by late afternoon. To start things off, let's make sure you're up to date on everything we've posted about this game over the past week.
We noted that the 15-month quarterback rivalry between the Packers' Aaron Rodgers and the Bears' Jay Cutler has new relevance: "If you subscribe to the theory that championships require elite quarterback play, you'll have no trouble deciding where to focus Monday night at Soldier Field."
At the same time, you could make an argument that neither Rodgers nor Cutler are the best players on the team right now. Packers linebacker Clay Matthews and Bears defensive end Julius Peppers are two of the game's elite pass-rushers, an asset that is at least as difficult to find as franchise quarterbacks.
In very Air and Space-like fashion, the Packers and Bears are 2-0 with minimal help from their running games.
The Bears won't have left tackle Chris Williams, but if the Packers have decided between Chad Clifton and Bryan Bulaga, word hasn't leaked out yet. Clifton is battling knee soreness. Bulaga would be battling the mystique of making his first NFL start on "Monday Night Football" against Peppers and the Bears' defense.
We offered these nuggets of knowledge based on some statistical analysis from ESPN Stats & Information:
Monday night's game between the Green Bay Packers and Chicago Bears has been billed as a battle of coaching gurus, and for good reason. Packers defensive coordinator Dom Capers is spinning a scheme that hardly resembles its 3-4 title, while Bears offensive coordinator Mike Martz has already displayed a willingness to move away from his traditional seven-step drop passes to help quarterback Jay Cutler. According to ESPN Stats & Information, the Packers have used their base 3-4 set on 15 of their 114 defensive snaps this season. Most of the others have featured a form of the nickel or dime package with extra defensive backs. That trend poses an interesting decision for Monday night. Cutler has a 105.5 passer rating this season against nickel defenses, but he threw five interceptions in two games against the Packers' nickel last season.
The numbers suggest the Packers should be judicious with their running game Monday night. With tailback Ryan Grant (ankle) out for the season, the Packers don't have a runner who can stretch the field. Brandon Jackson, John Kuhn and Dimitri Nance have combined for a 2.7-yard per carry average outside of the tackles since the start of 2009, according to ESPN Stats & Information. And the Bears' defense has been especially stingy on outside runs this season, holding opponents to 2.2 yards per carry in those instances. Realistically, the Packers should focus on grinding some hard inside yards and then working their play-action game with quarterback Aaron Rodgers.
Finally, we noted the last time the Packers and Bears met at 2-0: Sept. 30, 1962 at Lambeau Field, where the Packers edged the Bears 49-0. The last time they were both undefeated for a rivalry matchup was Sept. 16, 1990, a 33-13 Bears victory at Lambeau.
More in a bit.