Here’s a look at a key matchup heading into the Week 17 game between the Packers and Bears at Lambeau Field.
Bears’ run defense vs. Packers’ RB corps
The Packers should be in good shape on Sunday if they can run the ball as well as they did against the Giants last week. While they averaged only 3.4 yards per carry, Green Bay’s runners came through in the clutch in Week 16, particularly burly fan favorite John Kuhn, who has become quite the redzone force the last two games with four TDs (two each rushing and receiving).
Kuhn was the Packers’ primary rusher in the first game against the Bears in Week Three, which isn’t saying much, as the Bears’ staunch run defense (ranked third in the league) surrendered a mere 63 yards in that game. The Bears were particularly tough on Packers RB Brandon Jackson, who was tackled more often than not behind the line of scrimmage and had seven carries for only 12 yards. Pro Bowl LBs Brian Urlacher and Lance Briggs and NT Anthony Adams all had tackles for loss in Week Three.
In this game, Jackson, Kuhn and rookie Dimitri Nance — who had nine carries for 32 yards against the Giants and ran pretty decisively most of the time — are all expected to contribute both rushing and, more likely, receiving out of the backfield. Rookie James Starks, who will likely be activated for this game with FB Korey Hall out with an injury, is a long shot to make some sort of an impact.
Urlacher, Briggs, Adams and DRE Julius Peppers, another Pro Bowl selection who has been worth every penny the Bears paid for him this past offseason, have been strong against the run most of the season. Urlacher is a top candidate for Comeback Player of the Year honors and remains a big hitter with excellent range and instincts. Briggs plays the gaps masterfully and always seems to be around the ball. On the strong side, both Pisa Tinoisamoa and Nick Roach are active and effective.
One more factor worth noting about the Packers’ RBs are the excellent blitz-pickup abilities of both Jackson and Kuhn, which should buy extra time for QB Aaron Rodgers, who normally doesn’t need much.