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Bears-Packers matchup of the day: Tuesday

About the Author

Dan Arkush

darkush@pfwmedia.com
Executive editor

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Posted Dec. 20, 2011 @ 4:39 p.m. ET
By Dan Arkush

Bears safeties vs. Packers TE Jermichael Finley

The time couldn't be more right for Finley to duplicate his effort in the first game this season against the Bears in Week Three, when three of his seven catches (out of eight targets) resulted in touchdowns of six, seven and 10 yards. With Greg Jennings (knee) out of the mix until the postseason, it was widely assumed Finley and Jordy Nelson would combine to become the primary targets for Aaron Rodgers. Finley was targeted 10 times by Rodgers last Sunday — five more than RB Ryan Grant, the second-leading receiver — but caught only three passes for a team-leading 83 yards. He had the team's longest gains of the game with catches of 41 and 33 yards, but he also had major problems holding on to passes (he officially was charged with two drops).

The Chiefs' pass defense did a superb job of holding Green Bay's receivers in check, using 5-6 defensive backs a great deal of the time. The Bears would figure to have a much tougher time using the same approach due to limited manpower. Starting FS Chris Conte was placed on injured reserve early this week after injuring his foot and ankle in last Sunday's loss to the Seahawks. In addition, S Major Wright has missed the past two games with a shoulder sprain (check status), leaving the Bears with only three healthy safeties as of this writing (Craig Steltz, Brandon Meriweather and Winston Venable).

The odds are strong that Steltz and Meriweather will be the starting safeties on Christmas night, as was the case back in Week Three when Finley proved to be particularly pesky. In that game, Steltz and Meriweather combined for nine tackles but only one pass breakup (by Meriweather).

Steltz (team-leading eight tackles vs. Seattle) has played very solid football in recent weeks, handling both the run and short passing games extremely well. He has shown excellent instincts and is much more disciplined than Meriweather, a first-rounder in terms of natural talent with a 10-cent head that often gets him into trouble.

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