Mouth Breather has been surprisingly solid this year

Steffen: It’s hard for me to say this, but I think Packer nation just has to accept it — the Chicago Bears are better than they were last year. They are a different, more confident team.

They are playing faster on a defense that features a refurbished Brian Urlacher and the freakish abilities of Julius Peppers. On offense, quarterback Jay Cutler (so far) has been making far fewer mistakes than last season and offensive coordinator Mike Martz is crafting Matt Forte into a poor man’s Marshall Faulk.

I remain confident about the Packers’ chances this season, but they have yet to prove to me they are an elite team. I see too many cracks in the armor. Aaron Rodgers has been solid in the first two weeks, but not as amazing as predicted.

Poor depth and injuries at running back and in the defensive backfield may come back to bite the Packers this week. Add to that  the struggles of Chad Clifton and an injury to Daryn Colledge on the offensive line and this could easily become a disasterous game.

It will be interesting to see what kind of game plan Mike McCarthy rolls out. If he thinks Rodgers will be able to do a lot of five- and seven-step drops, the Packers may be in for a long game. On the other side, I expect the Bears to to employ a lot of three-step drops to counter the Packers fearsome pass rush.

I see both offenses moving the ball with turnovers keeping the game close. I give the Bears a home field edge in this one.

Bears 27, Packers 23

Brady: The NFL’s most storied rivalry continues as the Green Bay Packers take on the Chicago Bears in what I expect to be a slugfest.

On paper, this game looks like one the Packers should walk away with, but the Bears have made a tradition of playing the Packers like it’s their Super Bowl since Lovie Smith took over and claimed his first job was to “beat the Packers.”

For some reason, it seems like the Bears defense just knows how to play the Packers. The Packers scored 21 points in both games against Chicago last year, which tied for the team’s second-lowest point total on the season, behind the 17 scored against Dallas.

Jay Cutler was able to put together a solid game last week against the Cowboys, but the Packers get him in prime time, where he always finds a way to shine… for the opposing team. To make matters worse for “Cutty,” his starting left tackle, Chris Williams, will miss the game with injury, leaving Frank Omiyale to help try to stop Clay Matthews and the Packers pass rush. Good luck.

If offensive coordinator Mike Martz goes with a lot of deep passes, Cutler will take a beating. Monday night will also be a good indicator of how far rookie cornerback Sam Shields has come, since the Bears usually have at least three wide receivers on the field.

In watching the Bears’ games so far, tight ends have been able to abuse their defense, so the Packers should expect a big night from Jermichael Finley. The Bears rush defense is tops in the league while the Packers rushing offense looks anemic at best, but when you have Aaron Rodgers and the Packers wide receivers, who cares?

Two of the hottest quarterbacks in the league face off, so everyone expects a shootout, but Packers/Bears games typically resemble a back-alley knife fight. Touchdowns are a luxury in this game.

Packers 20, Bears 16

Sarah: Both teams are facing some questions along the offensive line, and the home-field advantage coupled with Julius Peppers should give the Bears an edge, but Jay Cutler and his targets aren’t prepared to outduel Aaron Rodgers and his.

Clay Matthews should have another huge day on defense, and look for Bryan Bulaga to make a difference if he plays on the offensive line.

Expect the Packers to show the difference between a Super Bowl-caliber team and wild-card contender.

Packers 24, Bears 19

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