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PFW executive editor and resident Packers expert Dan Arkush presents the first of five key matchups this week in advance of the Packers' Week Three game against the Bears at Soldier Field Sunday.
Packers' LB corps vs. Bears RB Matt Forté
The Green Bay defense's ability to hold down the Bears' Forté will be a key on Sunday. In coordinator Mike Martz's Bears offense, Forté has become the second coming of Marshall Faulk, whose big-play skills both rushing and receiving spearheaded Martz's "Greatest Show on Turf" Rams team of the late '90s. Last season, Forté became the first Bears running back since Walter Payton in 1983 to run for more than 1,000 yards and gain more than 500 yards receiving. Coming off a solid effort in which he gained 166 total yards (10 catches for 117 yards), Forté was the Bears' only bona fide offensive weapon in Week Two.
Ideally for the Bears, Forté will get off to a fast start Sunday, moving the chains and gradually begin opening up aerial opportunities for other Bears weapons off play-action fakes. Hard to bring down when he gets a head of steam, Forté has an excellent burst. He breaks his share of tackles, almost always falls forward for extra yardage and is as good a receiver out of the backfield as there is in the league. In the Bears' Week Three win over the Packers last season, Green Bay's defense did a number on Forté, limiting him to only 29 yards on 11 carries. But it was a much different story in the Packers' other two games against the Bears late in the season, including the NFC title game. In those games, Forté picked up 311 total yards.
Green Bay's linebackers did a good job holding down Panthers RBs DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart last week, helping to limit them to only 18 yards on 11 carries. Special attention should be paid to Desmond Bishop inside (leading tackler in the NFC title game and last week's win at Carolina) and Erik Walden outside. The Panthers exploited Walden in coverage early in last week's game, and more than a few passes to Forté in Walden's direction would hardly be a shock.