Thursday Matchup: Chicago vs. Green Bay

Thursday games in the NFL and a college game on ESPN every week is going to make for an inspiring part of the week for those trying to make it to the weekend. These prime matchups in the NFL are just as important to any fantasy roster as the games are on Sunday and Monday.

Taking your time to project your fantasy starters and best options for points needs to start sooner now. The temporary end of the season weeks where most of the Thursday games on were filled with poor teams and non fantasy impact players is gone. Just how you can be beat at the tail end of the week with Monday Night Football’s matchup, the same results can happen on Thursdays.

Tony Romo, Kevin Ogletree, and DeMarco Murray showcased that just a week ago. The matchup with the Bears and Packers should offer more of the same.

For a Packers team that has been known as a lethal offensive machine over the last four years, Chicago has been one of the few teams to consistently give Rodgers fits. Last year the Bears were owned in both games, but in years 2009 and 2010 the defense held their own against the high powered Packers offense. In 2010, offensive scoring by the Packers in the regular season was a game with 17 points and another with ten. When meeting again in the NFC Championship, the Packers scored 21 and ended up winning the Super Bowl.

With a shortened week and the way both teams played week one, you’d have to expect the defenses to suffer more than the offenses. Chicago’s Brian Urlacher is gutting it out to play and likely will. The sore spot in the Bears defense remains in the secondary. Andrew Luck made some mistakes week one but he flung the football around nicely. Rodgers will have no problem finding his receivers and moving the football up and down the field on the Bears.

Greg Jennings is looking like a game time decision with a groin injury. Chances are he will likely sit, and the team will give him basically a bye weeks length to heal. The Packers are loaded and deep at receiver so that’s the best thing for them to do. For Jennings owners it’s not worth the risk inserting him in the lineup.

That boosts up players such as James Jones and Randall Cobb. With the Packers rushing woes likely not to improve overnight, it’s going to be a big day for the passing game. I do expect Cedric Benson to get more than nine carries, and likely closer to twenty as the Packers want to try to mix it up better and wear down the Bears defense. With Rodgers scrambling ability, don’t be surprised to see a patented bootleg bomb to Jordey Nelson or James Jones.

If you are a Cedric Benson owner and want the comfort ability of getting a range of ten to fourteen fantasy points he is worth the start. He has always been a hard runner and will get the opportunities to make up for his lackluster week one against a stifling 49ers defense. Remember Benson was an ex-Bear. He has only faced off against his former team once. In that performance he ran for a career high 189 yards in 2009. Motivation is always there for a player going against recognizable ex teammates and organization that parted ways with him.

Start all the key Packers even Benson, and emerging specialist Randall Cobb.

With the Chicago Bears an offensive outpour looked great week one. Jay Cutler has more comfort ability than any quarterback in the NFL. Brandon Marshall was his top wide out with Denver, and he still has Earl Bennett on key downs that he hits over and over again. Will this be a mirage? Cutler has had many a performances where he shines and then follows them up with head scratchers.

Prime time games have been his nemesis, and this has repeat Cutler written all over it. A week of shining through the air should not be a recipe weekly for the Bears. They have the running backs to beat teams up through the ground every week. Teams can lose their identity after a game like the Bears just had. In a young season I expect that to happen vs. the Packers. Especially with the Packers hungry to not dig themselves in an 0-2 hole.

It looks like a favorably matchup for a fantasy quarterback, but I advise to sit Cutler. He may throw for 270 yards and a few touchdowns, but the interceptions will be two or more. Most fantasy owners did not draft Cutler anyways as their starter, so it should not be a hard pressed decision for you.

Other fantasy worthy players to sit would include Mike Bush and Alshon Jeffrey. Brandon Marshall and Matt Forte are both in a class of their own in their respective positions, in the top five for fantasy purposes.

Analyzing the spread of 51.5 for the over and under. One would cling on the over automatically after the Bears week one and expected fire of Green Bay. I look for the Packers to enforce the ground game and milk the clock on drives. A contrarian view of predictability. The Packers know they can score quickly if needed but running up and down the field is not a successful game plan.

Running the clock and putting the pressure on the Bears to respond is. The longer Cutler analyzes and sits on the sideline the more anxious he will get. He is a quarterback that gets anxious to make the big plays and lets a handful of balls leave his hand that never should have. Take the Packers with the six point spread and the under of 51.5


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