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Cutler's Struggles Against Packers Keep Bears from Being Contenders

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COMMENTARY | When Jay Cutler plays the Green Bay Packers, he must have flashbacks to his college days at Vanderbilt when he would take beatings at the hands of SEC powerhouse teams.

It isn't that his Chicago Bears team is as talent-poor as those Commodores teams, just that Cutler has struggled mightily against his NFC North nemesis.

In seven tries against Green Bay, Cutler has won just once. That game was the third week of the regular season in 2010. That same year, you may recall, Cutler infamously left the NFC Championship Game against the same Packers team due to a mysterious injury.

Green Bay beat Chicago on the road and eventually won the Super Bowl.

In two games since - Cutler missed the second of the two Packers games last season due to injury - the Chicago quarterback is 32-64 (50%), for 428 yards with 3 touchdowns, 6 interceptions, and has been sacked 10 times.

The meeting in Week 2 this season was one of Cutler's worst games as a pro, as he completed 40% of his passes, was intercepted four times and sacked on seven occasions. Green Bay won 23-10 and it wasn't even that close.

But this is nothing new to Jay Cutler and the Packers. In his career as a Bear, Cutler is completing 53% of his passes against Green Bay, averaging just 6.4 yards per attempt and has 7 touchdowns against 16 interceptions.

When Chicago traded to get Brandon Marshall, that was supposed to help solve some of the offensive woes. That is, at least, the woes that weren't solved when Jay Cutler arrived in Chicago as the supposed savior of a franchise.

It says something about the quarterbacks a team has had when Cutler is the best in the modern era.

Marshall has destroyed most of the NFL this year, but had just 2 catches for 24 yards against Green Bay earlier this season, including a drop in the end zone. Bracket coverage prevented Marshall from getting deep and physical play underneath from Green Bay's secondary prevented him from getting to his spots across the middle.

In fact, Cutler completed as many passes to Tramon Williams (2), who was covering Marshall most of the night, as he did to Marshall. Over the course of Jay's career versus Green Bay, 10 different Packers have an interception and four players have at least two.

If Charles Woodson is healthy enough to start this week then every Packers starting defensive back will have had at least one interception against Cutler and both starting safeties, Woodson and Morgan Burnett, have two.

Aaron Rodgers, on the other hand, only has 6 interceptions in his career against Cutler-lead Chicago Bears teams - Rodgers threw 5 touchdowns and no interceptions in the only Cutler-less Bears game he played. Brian Urlacher has two of those, but the Hall of Fame middle linebacker won't play Sunday.

When you look at Rodgers' career against the Bears under Cutler, the statistics are somewhat ambiguous. They aren't quite up to Rodgers' high standards, but they aren't abysmal either. That's due in part to the fact that Rodgers has had some good games and some mediocre games against the Bears and only one or two really great games.

Cutler though, has been universally bad against the Packers. Even the one game the Bears won, it took a Devin Hester punt return touchdown and a late forced fumble by Charles Tillman to win the game. Cutler played only a minor roll.

In order for the Bears to be a legitimate threat to the Packers in the NFC North or the NFC playoff race, Jay Cutler has to play better against his rivals up the interstate.

The news isn't great for Cutler though, as Clay Matthews and the aforementioned Woodson are both expected to play this week in a game the Bears must win to stay alive in the division. If the Packers win, they clinch the division and Chicago's playoff hopes would be hanging by a thread.

Green Bay rookie Casey Hayward has been a ball hawk this season with a rookie best 5 interceptions, and Sam Shields had a pick last week against Detroit, showing he is back to full strength after knee and ankle problems.

The Packers' defense hasn't been taking the ball away this season like it has in years past, but it has always been able to count on Jay Cutler to throw the ball to the guys in green and gold. Until Cutler gets a handle on his turnovers and can find a way to be productive, he'll continue to play the Vanderbilt to Green Bay's Florida, especially when Aaron Rodgers is on a long-term scholarship in Packerland.

Peter Bukowski is a Wisconsin transplant living in New York and has been covering sports since 2007. He is an award-winning television and newspaper reporter. Follow him on Twitter @BukoTime

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