The Green Bay Packers don’t have much time to recover from their season-opening loss as they host the NFC North-rival Chicago Bears on Thursday night. Green Bay, which went a franchise-best 15-1 last season before being upset by the New York Giants in its first playoff game, already has matched its loss total as it dropped a 30-22 decision at home to San Francisco on Sunday. The Packers’ rebuilt defense looked eerily similar to last season’s disappointing unit, while their “improved” ground attack saw quarterback Aaron Rodgers emerge as the team’s leading rusher with 27 yards.
The loss was the first in a season opener since 2006 and ended the 13-game regular-season home winning streak of the Packers, who take on a Chicago team that rolled to a 41-21 home victory over Indianapolis in Andrew Luck’s NFL debut. Chicago finished 8-8 last year, losing both meetings with Green Bay by a combined score of 62-38. The Bears have lost four consecutive matchups with the Packers and six of seven but lead the all-time series 92-86-6. Chicago has not won at Lambeau Field since Oct. 7, 2007, when it posted a 27-20 triumph.
ABOUT THE BEARS (1-0): The reunion of QB Jay Cutler and WR Brandon Marshall paid immediate dividends as the former Denver Broncos worked extremely well together in their first game as Chicago teammates. Marshall registered 119 yards on nine receptions, including a 3-yard touchdown catch in the second quarter that put the Bears ahead for good. RB Matt Forte could wind up being a disgruntled player if the events that took place in the season opener continue. Forte gained 80 yards on 16 carries and scored on a 6-yard run but was replaced in several goal-line situations by newcomer Michael Bush, who had a pair of 1-yard TDs. Chicago made some roster moves the day after their victory, signing former Steelers OT Jonathan Scott and activating DT Nate Collins from the reserved/suspended list. The Bears also waived P Ryan Quigley.
ABOUT THE PACKERS (0-1): The Packers are hoping to avoid their first 0-2 start since 2006, Mike McCarthy’s first season as head coach. Green Bay needs a better performance from RB Cedric Benson, who gained just 18 yards on nine carries in his debut with the Packers. Benson had three disappointing seasons with Chicago after being drafted fourth overall in 2005 but revived his career in Cincinnati, where he eclipsed the 1,000-yard mark three times in four years. DE C.J. Wilson suffered a groin injury early in Sunday’s loss. Wilson’s attempt to return later in the first quarter was unsuccessful. WR Randall Cobb made it two straight season openers with a return TD, although Sunday’s 75-yard punt-return score was a gift as the replacement officials initially penalized Terrell Manning for blocking from behind before picking up the flag. Cobb returned a kickoff an NFL record-tying 108 yards for a TD against New Orleans in the 2011 opener.
1. Chicago’s point total in the season opener was its highest since scoring 48 in a victory on Oct. 4, 2009, over Detroit.
2. Packers LB Clay Matthews, whose sack total dropped from 13.5 in 2010 to a mere six last year, recorded 2.5 in Sunday’s loss.
3. The Bears could be without Pro Bowl CB Charles Tillman, who left Sunday’s game in the first quarter with a lower leg injury.