TALE OF THE TAPE

Packer Plus - - Preview: Packers (7-3) Vs. Bears (4-6) - BY ROB REIS­CHEL

QUAR­TER­BACKS

Chicago’s Jay Cut­ler, 32, is play­ing ar­guably the best foot­ball of his ca­reer. Work­ing un­der first-year co­or­di­na­tor Adam Gase, Cut­ler has been con­trolled, ef­fi­cient and highly pro­duc­tive with a sub­par cast. In his fi­nal chance to lead the Bears, Cut­ler is turn­ing in one of the best years of his ca­reer. Green Bay’s Aaron Rodgers has thrown eight TD passes in his last three games.

AD­VAN­TAGE: Packers

RUN­NING BACKS

Chicago’s Matt Forte has missed the last three games with a knee in­jury, but could re­turn Thanks­giv­ing night. When healthy, Forte is one of the NFL’s most com­plete backs. Forte is a pa­tient run­ner with ter­rific vi­sion and un­der­rated speed. Forte turns 30 in De­cem­ber, though, and is likely play­ing his fi­nal sea­son in Chicago. One rea­son for that has been the emer­gence of rookie sen­sa­tion Jeremy Langford. Langford, a fourthround draft choice, had the best 40-yard dash time (4.42) among run­ning backs at last year’s com­bine. Green Bay’s Ed­die Lacy had his best game of the sea­son vs. Min­nesota.

AD­VAN­TAGE: Bears

RE­CEIVERS

Al­shon Jef­fery is Chicago’s No. 1 WR, but he’s been both­ered all year with groin and shoul­der in­juries. Jef­fery has im­pos­ing size (6-3, 216) and makes sev­eral catches with a high de­gree of dif­fi­culty, but lacks top-end speed. Tight end Martel­lus Ben­nett has been the Bears’ top tar­get. Ben­nett has ter­rific hands and ideal size (6-6, 265) to box out de­fend­ers. For­mer sev­enth-round pick Mar­quess Wil­son has been sur­pris­ingly pro­duc­tive. Green Bay’s James Jones is com­ing off his best game since Week 3.

AD­VAN­TAGE: Packers

OF­FEN­SIVE LINE

Bears RT Kyle Long has been a Pro Bowl player each of his first two sea­sons. Long is ex­tremely ath­letic, bright and has made a seam­less tran­si­tion from right guard this sea­son. LG Matt Slau­son is an­other top per­former. Slau­son has a unique com­bi­na­tion of smarts and nas­ti­ness. He’s a solid pass blocker, but can also get to the sec­ond level in the run game. Af­ter that, there’s a de­cline in tal­ent. LT Charles Leno has been a mess, al­low­ing 17 quar­ter­back hur­ries and five hits through the first nine games. RG Vladimir Du­casse has been so-so in the run game, but a dis­as­ter in pass pro. Both Du­casse and Leno wouldn't be start­ing in most NFL cities. Rookie C Hro­niss Grasu was thrust into the lineup af­ter Will Mont­gomery suf­fered a bro­ken fibula in Week 4. Packers LT David Bakhtiari is banged up (knee) and strug­gling in a big way.

AD­VAN­TAGE: Packers

DE­FEN­SIVE LINE

Chicago’s de­fenses in 2013-’14 were the worst two in fran­chise history. First-year co­or­di­na­tor Vic Fan­gio has im­ple­mented a 3-4 scheme and the Bears have made marked im­prove­ments. Chicago’s best player up front has been rookie NT Ed­die Gold­man, a mas­sive man (6-4, 336) with ter­rific strength and lever­age. DE Will Sut­ton is un­der­sized for the 3-4 scheme and has been a li­a­bil­ity in the run game. DE Jarvis Jenk­ins, a free-agent ac­qui­si­tion, has played as poorly in Chicago as he did in Wash­ing­ton. Green Bay’s de­fen­sive line was ter­rific in slow­ing down Min­nesota’s Adrian Peter­son.

AD­VAN­TAGE: Packers

LINEBACK­ERS

Bears OLB Per­nell McPhee has been one of the NFL’s top de­fend­ers this year. McPhee can rush from ei­ther side, plays with violence and ranks among the league lead­ers in QB hits and hur­ries. Fel­low OLB Sam Acho mans the strong­side and brings in­tel­li­gence and re­li­a­bil­ity to the po­si­tion. ILB Shea McClellin has saved his ca­reer with his move from DE, while fel­low ILB Chris­tian Jones is out­stand­ing in the pass game, but strug­gles vs. the run. Green Bay’s Da­tone Jones is get­ting snaps at OLB and making the most of them.

AD­VAN­TAGE: Packers

SEC­ONDARY

For­mer Packers de­fen­sive co­or­di­na­tor Ed Donatell coaches Chicago’s de­fen­sive backs and has got­ten more out of this unit than many thought pos­si­ble. Sec­ond-year CB Kyle Fuller flashed rare in­stincts and ball skills early with three in­ter­cep­tions in his first three ca­reer games. But Fuller has just two picks in 23 games since. Vet­eran CB Tracy Porter has been so-so. Rookie SS Adrian Amos, a fifth-round draft choice, has held up bet­ter than any­one could have hoped. Vet­eran FS An­trel Rolle has been ad­e­quate. Green Bay CB Casey Hay­ward would love to start out­side, but is a true dif­fer­ence maker in the slot.

AD­VAN­TAGE: Packers

SPE­CIAL TEAMS

Bears K Rob­bie Gould re­mains a solid, steady pro. P Pat O’Don­nell ranks among the league lead­ers in gross and net av­er­ages.

AD­VAN­TAGE: Even

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