Each week throughout the season we'll ask five questions of PFW publisher and Bears expert Hub Arkush to get his analysis on some of the top issues facing the team. This week, Hub says the Bears' defense will not hold the Packers to 17 points or less for a third time this season and he also says Jay Cutler has fallen further behind Aaron Rodgers in the battle to become the NFC North's best quarterback.
1. Where does Sunday's matchup with the Packers rank in the most anticipated Bears games that you have witnessed?
Arkush: It's hard to imagine anything bigger than Bears-Giants, Bears-Rams, Bears-Pats in Super Bowl XX, but since the game is so much bigger, the audience is so much bigger and it's the Packers, I'd have to say this is No. 1. In its heyday during the Lombardi-Halas and Ditka-Gregg eras, Bears vs. Packers was the best rivalry in all of sports.
2. Do you expect the Bears’ defense to keep the Packers from scoring more than 17 points for a third time this season?
Arkush: No I don't. The Pats have put up 36 and the Jets have put up 34 on the Bears in the past six weeks, and even Seattle hung 24 on them last week. The Bears' secondary is a real weak link when quarterbacks have time to throw and they haven't shown they can stop weapons like Aaron Rodgers, Greg Jennings, Donald Driver, James Jones and Jordy Nelson when they're clicking on all cylinders. The Week 17 game against the Bears was the only time Rodgers has been off in weeks, and it's hard to picture it happening again after his performance last Saturday in Atlanta.
3. How much closer is Jay Cutler to being the best quarterback in the NFC North than he was when the season started?
Arkush: Well, he's second now rather than third with Brett Favre clearly done, but he's also further behind Rodgers than he was when the season started. Cutler appears to have made real strides in the second half of the season, but Rodgers has emerged as the third-best quarterback in the NFL and he may just be pushing Tom Brady and Peyton Manning any day now. Cutler is nowhere near that class yet, although he has the physical ability to get there.
4. Chris Harris has vowed to play Sunday, although he’s dealing with a hip injury. How valuable is Harris to the Bears’ defense?
Arkush: He's very valuable as a leader, signalcaller and veteran presence, but there's not much difference in him and Major Wright in terms of physical performance. Both are big hitters and potential liabilities in pass coverage. Harris would be missed, but it's not a game-changer.
5. Which coordinator do you think is more valuable to his team — Mike Martz or Dom Capers?
Arkush: Dom Capers has the second-ranked scoring defense in the NFL. Mike Martz's offense is 21st in scoring and 30th in total yards. Is it really a contest? Capers switched the Pack from a 4-3 to a 3-4 last year and had them near the top of the league by midseason. Martz took over this year and had the Bears' offense in turmoil at midseason. This isn't a fair fight.