Friday, December 14, 2012

Packers At Bears Preview: Injuries and Turnovers

The probable return of LB Clay Matthews is the best news in regard to injuries that the Green Bay Packers have heard in a while, but another injury on the offensive line showed up:
Despite his presence on the practice field, CB Charles Woodson is still listed as out this week on the injury report, along with Nelson, Starks and Wilson. RG Josh Sitton injured his hip during practice on Thursday, and despite the return of T.J. Lang, who played at left guard while Evan Dietrich-Smith moved over to the right side in Sitton's absence, the offensive line could remain a patchwork unit on Sunday.

However, the Bears are dealing with their own injuries. Most importantly, LB Brian Urlacher and CB Tim Jennings are both out. In addition, DE Shea McClellin and DT Henry Melton are listed as doubtful because neither player was able to practice this week. The Packers may be having injury problems on the offensive line, but the Bears might have trouble taking advantage of them without McClellin and Melton. Despite all the talk about QB Jay Cutler, who was injured last week in Minnesota, he fully participated in practice on Friday and should play on Sunday.

Of all those injuries, Jennings might be the most significant one because turnovers are such a big part of the Bears' success this season and he leads their team with 8 INTs, though CB Charles Tillman and his 9 forced fumbles will still be on the field. They've lost 4 of their last 5 games and they've forced only 4 turnovers in their losses while recovering 3 in their lone win (against the Vikings at home on November 25th). The Bears seem unable to score over 20 points when they are losing the turnover battle.

If the Bears' defense can't help the offense to some easy points, then I don't see how they can't beat the Packers, who have only been held under 23 points once during their current streak (winners of 7 of their last 8). The only exception was their lost to the Giants back on November 25 when they got beat physically on both sides of the ball, and that game looks more like an exception than the rule.

Packers 27, Bears 13.

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