Keys to the Game: Packers vs. Bears

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Green Bay Packers

Avoid turnovers

The main goal for the Green Bay Packers on Monday night against the Chicago Bears is to avoid turnovers. Chicago is ranked fifth in the NFL with a plus-7 turnover ratio. The Packers are minus-2. The Packers are riding a four-game winning streak but could lose if they give the Bears extra chances.

Throwing contest

With Bears quarterback Jay Cutler on the sideline with a groin injury and Josh McCown making the start, the Packers want to score early and fast. Forcing the 11-year backup to try to keep up with Aaron Rodgers and the Packers’ offense will likely lead to good things for the Packers. The more pressure McCown feels, the more likely he is to make mistakes.

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Chicago Bears

Stay balanced

The Bears will need balance to take down the Packers. Since the emergence of rookie running back Eddie Lacy, the Packers have been able to sustain long drives and keep the defense fresh. The Bears will need to return the favor to keep their own defense from wearing down. If the Bears can put together a few long drives capped off with touchdowns, they can keep the Packers from running away with the game.

Get in the zone

The Bears’ offense has been pretty good this season, especially in the red zone. Chicago has scored on 65.4 percent of its trips in the red zone this season, fifth in the NFL. Green Bay, meanwhile, is ranked dead last in the league for red zone defense. If the Bears can get inside the Packers’ 20-yard line, they should be able to score touchdowns and keep the game in reach.

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other keys

Must-See Matchup

Matt Forte vs. Packers run defense

Matt Forte has rolled up 533 yards rushing this season and has scored six touchdowns. Forte can get it done and will be relied on even more with Cutler out. He’ll be facing a much improved Packers run defense, however. After finishing 17th in the league against the run last season, the Packers’ rush defense is ranked fourth in the NFL against the run this season. Last week the Packers held MVP running back Adrian Peterson to 60 yards on 13 carries. If the Packers bottle up Forte on Monday, it’s unlikely the Bears will have enough punch to keep up with the Packers.

About Due

Casey Hayward

The second-year cornerback finally returned to action last week against the Vikings after missing most of training camp with a hamstring injury. It’s hard to say how long it will take for Hayward to get back to the form he was at last season, when he led the team with six interceptions. Once he does, the Packers should have plenty of options in the secondary.

Hot Streak

Eddie Lacy

The Packers’ rookie running back is transforming the offense. Lacy has amassed 446 yards this season, is averaging 4.0 yards per carry and 74.3 yards a game. His tough running is making defenses react, making things easier for Aaron Rodgers and keeping the ball away from opposing offenses. Lacy’s production is also tops of the rookie running backs taken in the 2013 NFL draft.