Three Bears necessitites against the Packers

Three Bears necessitites against the Packers
December 29, 2013, 10:45 am
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1. The D-line's time

Can the Bears' weakest link all season get it right just in time? One of their best games was actually their first meeting against the Packers, when they colleced five of the skimpy 28-sack total through 15 games. Shea McClellin had three, including the collarbone-breaking hit on Aaron Rodgers that put the NFC North up for grabs. Julius Peppers had one of his better games in a down year. Corey Wootton was a presence. But that was against Rodgers for only one series. 

Now they add Jeremiah Ratliff to the mix. Can this group execute enough to give Rodgers a rude welcome back, while holding their gaps so Eddie Lacy and James Starks don't run wild? Can they help Lance Briggs look like himself again? Can they avoid open-field swings-and-misses by Major Wright and Chris Conte?

[MORE: Bears-Packers: And the winner is...]

2. 'That precious ball'

Marc Trestman used that phrase in his introductory press conference about getting the football and keeping it. Jay Cutler must be kept clean, and find the fine line between managing the offense, mistake-free, and delivering when the home run is available. The offensive line took over the first meeting at crunch time, capping off a 171-yard night on the ground. Rodgers has the best touchdown-to-interception ratio in NFL history — I doubt he'll be rusty, though. After generating 14 takeaways the first four games, the Bears have just 12 in the last 11.

[RELATED: Top 13 of '13: Bears hire Marc Trestman]

3. Winning teams

Devin Hester began his NFL career by getting the first of his 19 return touchdowns in his debut against the Packers. In what could be his Bears swan song, he's still one away from breaking his record tie with Deion Sanders.  While that would be nice, and fitting, I'll take a "clean" game from Joe DeCamillis' unit, with solid coverage against the dangerous Micah Hyde and even-more-dangerous Randall Cobb.  Like the defense and offense, special teams contributed to last week's embarrassment at Philadelphia, setting a bad early tone.  Robbie Gould's waiting to celebrate his new contract with a little something extra.

Get ready for Sunday's NFC North championship with Jim Miller, Dan Jiggetts and Chris Boden on "Bears Pregame Live" from 2-3 p.m. on Comcast SportsNet.  The PGL team will break down the first half here on as soon as the second Quarter ends with Bears Halftime Live, presented by Blue Cross Blue Shield of Illinois.  Then switch back to Comcast SportsNet as soon as the game ends for 90 minutes of live press conferences, locker room reaction and analysis on "Bears Postgame Live," presented by Nissan.