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Bears-Packers matchup of the day: Wednesday

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Dan Arkush
Executive editor

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Posted Dec. 29, 2010 @ 5:10 p.m. ET
By Dan Arkush

Here’s a look at a key matchup heading into the Week 17 game between the Packers and Bears at Lambeau Field.

Bears RB Matt Forté vs. Packers LB corps

Since coming off their bye in Week Eight, the Bears have run the ball a little more than 50 percent of the time, with Forté handling most of the workload on the ground. Forté didn’t do much in the first game against the Packers in Week Three, gaining only 29 yards on 11 carries, but down the stretch, he has been running as well as he ever has. He had a huge game last week against the Jets, rushing 19 times for 113 yards with a 22-yard TD run in the first quarter and a 32-yard romp in the fourth quarter, and he is gaining an impressive 4.9 yards per carry in the past seven games. Considered one of the league’s best receiving backs, he also had four catches for 56 yards against the Jets.

Forté has regained the speed and excellent burst that was missing much of last season after an impressive rookie campaign the year before. He has lost weight and is much healthier than he was in 2009, having gained 978 yards on the ground with six rushing TDs heading into this game, compared to 929 yards rushing and four TDs in 2009.

The Packers did a great job against the run in their win over the Giants last week, limiting Giants RBs Brandon Jacobs and Ahmad Bradshaw to 78 yards on 20 carries and forcing a fumble by each of them. Pro Bowl starter Clay Matthews, who had three tackles and two hurries against the Bears in Week Three, had two huge plays involving the Giants' backs. He caught up to Jacobs after a 21-yard gain and punched the ball loose for one of the Packers’ six takeaways and earlier fought off a block by the Giants’ Bear Pascoe to tackle Jacobs for a one-yard loss.

ILBs A.J. Hawk and Desmond Bishop, who combined for 15 tackles, an interception (by Hawk) and three pass breakups against the Giants, must maintain the same solid gap discipline that they displayed last week. It remains to be seen whether ROLB Frank Zombo, who played well in the Week Three game (two tackles and a 10-yard sack) and has missed the past two games with a knee injury, will be good to go this Sunday. But Robert Francois and Erik Walden held their own sharing the load in Zombo’s place against the Giants.

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