Game of the Week: Bears-Packers
In terms of offensive line change, the Bills are in a league of their own (a new player at every position, two rookie guards and they just cut their starting left tackle), but the Packers and Bears each have three players new to their position, including a few guys who won their jobs by a whisker. Add that up and things could get interesting for
Neither quarterback was sacked in the preseason, which looks great on paper, but preseason statistics rarely tell the whole story. Against Denver in the Kill Cutler Bowl, Cutler's zero sacks just as easily could have been four or five. Left tackle
Rodgers, meanwhile, kept his clean sheet using his feet, including two nifty scrambles against the Cardinals. But he's shown fragility issues in the past, so don't expect him to make a habit out of scrambling. Also consider the number of deep balls Green Bay threw in the preseason. Rodgers chucked three 40-plus yard balls in the first half against Arizona alone. He'll need time to complete those in the regular season and I'm just not convinced this line can always give it to him. How these two lines fare this week against feisty defenses should tell you plenty about each team's offensive prospects down the line.
The Bears did get a glimpse of the 3-4 against Denver this preseason, and for their first two series they looked absolutely perplexed. (Main offender: Pace, who routinely got burnt by pass rushing outside linebacker
With some exceptions, Green Bay's 3-4 was relatively successful this preseason, forcing a Bears-like 12 turnovers in their first three games before drawing none against Tennessee.
The advantage is clearly Green Bay's -- to a certain extent. They know the system. Chicago has to learn it. The Bears face 3-4 base defenses five times this season and how they handle the Packers' could be telling of their season to come.
I observed Kampman on every single play during the Packers' preseason Week 3 tilt at Arizona (he, like most of Green Bay's starters, played only one half), and I see a guy who's still feeling his way around the position. In the end Kampman registered just one tackle, which was really a pile-on; and he returned a loose ball for a touchdown, which he gets little credit for. He was well blocked on the play and got lucky by being in the right place at the right time.
My simple assessment: Kampman doesn't look comfortable without his hand on the ground and he loses leverage when he's back on his heels. In one instance it caused him to whiff on a 20-yard
On the other side of the ball you have Bears right tackle
Now he faces a serious test in Kampman, new position or not. If Williams isn't ready to be an NFL contributor, it'll stand out Sunday night. If Kampman has a grasp on the position, we should see it clearly.
On the opposite side, Chicago's backfield is a work in progress and, realistically, a potential disaster. One cornerback,
Every week, I'll lend my thoughts on a few particularly startable or sit-worthy players. Here's who's I like in this Week 1 matchup:
Look for Rodgers to test the Bears' suspect secondary with some deep looks early. Whether Chicago's defensive line has actually been rejuvenated by Marinelli -- or not -- will determine Rodgers' ability to get those balls off. Without physical evidence of any renaissance, call me a doubter. I'm calling for a few early Green Bay passing scores, setting up