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A big game early in the season

Posted Sep 13, 2012


When I first saw this game on the schedule, I wrinkled my nose. This is an awfully meaningful game for it to be played so early in the season. Normally, you’d like to see this kind of game pushed a little deeper in the schedule, for when both teams are playing their best football and the playoff race is beginning to take shape.

And what about playing on a Thursday night? Is that what Curly Lambeau and George Halas had in mind when they founded these two franchises?

Those were my thoughts when the schedule first came out. Call me a heritage team snob, but I just don’t like seeing special games such as these getting the early-season, midweek treatment. I mean, five days into the season and two premium home dates will be gone, and one of them is a Bears game.

In contrast, when last year’s schedule came out and I saw the Packers were to host the Bears on Christmas night, I got a smile on my face. I was new to the Packers and I liked the idea of spending Christmas at Lambeau Field watching the Packers and Bears play football. It was cool.

The second Thursday in September? Frankly, I don’t see this catching on like, you know, the first Sunday in October, or the Sunday after Thanksgiving? No, I don’t think the second Thursday in September has the same kind of ring to it.

Well, here we are, it’s the day of the game and my excitement for tonight’s game is genuine. It’s the second Thursday in September and I’ve got a late-season feeling. As I’m penning this column, I have the feeling I’m going to witness something big tonight, something to which we’ll look back when we reach December.

Maybe it’s just a mood I’m in, or maybe it’s because it’s a Bears-Packers game, or maybe it’s the first chilly, rainy day of the season that has me in a big-game mood, or maybe it’s because my football instincts are on the mark and this one, in fact, really is big.

I think that’s it. The prospect of going to Seattle – it always sounds like a Lewis and Clark expedition – winless is frightening. The Packers are a good football team. It’s a team that should contend for a Super Bowl title. Hey, guys, let’s not let this get out of hand, huh?

The home team needs a win. I know you know that and I have no doubt your instincts are the same as mine. Here are 10 things the Packers have to do to beat the Bears.

1. Do what you didn’t do against the 49ers—That means run the ball and stop the run, which means creating balance on offense and giving the pass rush a chance to make a difference on defense. There, that takes care of a lot of things.

2. Play with desperation—You don’t want to be 0-2 heading to Seattle.

3. Catch the ball—Dropped passes are costing this team sustained drives, time of possession and points.

4. Rattle Cutler—He’s an effective and productive quarterback when he’s given time to throw.

5. Shadow Forte—He’s very good at drifting into the passing lanes, especially in disguising screen-pass plays.

6. Kick away from Hester—Nothing down the middle of the field, please.

7. Win the battle of the hitting—The team that does that usually wins.

8. Bracket Marshall—He’s the Bears’ new weapon and they’re giddy about the new things they can do with him. He requires extra attention.

9. Get back to Packers football—That means making big plays in the passing game.

10. Play for the fans—This is their game. This is the one that counts. “This is probably even more important for our fans … with the bragging rights with the borders. That’s definitely something you recognize,” Mike McCarthy said.

 
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