Those impressive numbers weren’t stacked up against the likes of this year’s version of the “Monsters of the Midway”.
Enjoying their longest winning streak since 1986, the NFC North-leading Bears will try to make it eight victories in a row when they host Brett Favre and the last-place Packers.
When Lovie Smith was named coach of the Bears on Jan. 15, 2004, he said, “The No. 1 goal that we’ll have is to beat Green Bay.” Smith’s streaking Bears have not beaten the Packers at home since Dec. 5, 1993.
Favre has been the main reason for Chicago’s drought against Green Bay. He has thrown a touchdown pass in all 26 career games he has played against the Bears, and his 51 touchdowns against Chicago are the third-most against one opponent in NFL history.
Throwing or running for scores against the Bears may be a little more difficult for Favre and the Packers this season. Chicago boasts the top-rated defense in the NFL, and has allowed just four touchdowns in 91 possessions during its current win streak.
The Bears have the No. 1 passing defense in the league, and have not allowed a 200-yard passer since Oct. 16 against the Minnesota Vikings. The most passing yards they’ve allowed all season came in Week 2 against the Detroit Lions, when they yielded 205.
The Bears are coming off a 13-10 win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Chicago allowed its first offensive touchdown in 37 opponents’ drives, spanning 11 quarters, but came away with a victory when Tampa Bay’s Matt Bryant missed a potential tying field goal with 2:47 to play.
“We wanted to go 12,” Chicago defensive end Alex Brown said. “You just get that mindset and that attitude that they’re not going to score.”
Brown set the tone early against the Bucs, forcing quarterback Chris Simms to fumble on the third play of the game. It was Brown’s third forced fumble in the last two games.
Chicago forced a turnover on its opponent’s first offensive series for the fifth time this year, the highest total in the NFL.
“We are getting better every week. … They are one of the best teams in the NFC,” linebacker Brian Urlacher said of the Bucs. “We came into their house and got a big win.”
The Bears have the No. 1 scoring defense in the league, having allowed just 10 touchdowns through the first 11 games. The defense is allowing an average of 10.9 points per game, and has yielded 10 points or fewer seven times.
The Bears are scoring just enough points to win. The Bears’ only touchdown against the Bucs came on a one-yard pass from Kyle Orton after the defense recovered a fumble on the Tampa Bay 1.
“I think we epitomize what the word ‘team’ is all about,” wide receiver Muhsin Muhammad said. “This is a team sport … the ultimate team sport. It’s not one individual, it’s not one All-Star, it’s not one guy that makes a team. It’s the whole team. We are playing good team ball right now.”
Chicago’s rushing offense ranks sixth in the NFL, averaging 132.5 yards per game. Thomas Jones has rushed for the fifth most yards in the NFC with 912. Jones has rushed for more than 100 yards in his last three games against the Packers.
The Packers’ run defense ranks 23rd in the league, and they allowed a season-high 180 rushing yards last week in a 19-14 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles.
Green Bay has suffered seven of its nine losses by seven points or fewer.
Samkon Gado ran for 111 yards and one touchdown, and has five touchdowns in his last four games for the Packers.
Favre finished 15-of-33 for 171 yards, with one touchdown and two interceptions. He posted a quarterback rating of 46.4—his lowest since a 32.4 rating on Dec. 5, 2004, also at Philadelphia.
“It just hasn’t worked out for whatever reason,” Favre said.
Favre has 19 touchdowns and 19 interceptions this season. He needs one more TD pass to extend his NFL-record streak of 20-plus touchdown-pass seasons to 12.
Green Bay players have missed 41 combined starts due to injury this season, and they may be without tight end Bubba Franks against the Bears.
Franks was carried out on a stretcher and went to a hospital for X-rays on his neck in the game against the Eagles.
Asked if Franks might play against the Bears, Packers coach Mike Sherman said, “The doctor, who is very conservative in his evaluation, said, `Don’t rule him out for sure but we’ll see how he reacts when he gets back here.”’