Bears look to stay on roll against Packers

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LAKE FOREST, Ill. (AP) — Lance Briggs was not too keen on looking back as the Chicago Bears prepared to face the Green Bay Packers.

That season-ending loss last year?

"That's overblown," Briggs said.

What matters to the seven-time Pro Bowl linebacker is that the Bears are going for their third straight win when the Packers visit on Sunday afternoon — not the loss in last year's playoffs-or-bust finale at Soldier Field.

Aaron Rodgers returned from a broken collarbone in that game and hit a wide-open Randall Cobb for a 48-yard touchdown in the closing minute to clinch the NFC North title.

Safety Chris Conte missed his coverage assignment with the Bears in an all-out blitz, and Chicago missed the playoffs for the sixth time in seven seasons.

"To me, this is 2014," Briggs said. "We just gotta go out and win. Gotta go out and win. That's more important than anything else — we go out and get that 'W' and everybody will be happy."

That's exactly what the Bears have been doing the past two weeks.

They shook off a season-opening loss to Buffalo at home with prime-time victories on each coast, beating the San Francisco 49ers and then taking out the New York Jets on Monday night. They've done it despite losing several starters on offense and defense to injuries.

The Packers (1-2) can't seem to get their offense in gear. They rank 28th overall and 27th in the run. The passing game isn't exactly lighting things up, either, and there was plenty of room to improve overall after last week's 19-7 loss to Detroit.

The Packers' 223 yards of total offense were the team's lowest total since a 184-yard outing on Nov. 9, 2008, in a 28-27 loss to Minnesota. The 51 offensive plays were nowhere near the goal of 75 that coach Mike McCarthy likes to run.

It has added up to a third straight 1-2 start for Green Bay.

"We just have to figure out what's going to work for this team this year and ride with that," receiver Jordy Nelson said.

Here are some things to look for in this game.

CATCH THIS: Both teams have concerns at receiver.

Chicago's Brandon Marshall continues to be limited by an ankle injury. He had just one catch for 6 yards in Monday's win.

On the plus side for the Bears, Alshon Jeffery is coming off a big game with eight catches for 105 yards after being listed as questionable with a hamstring issue.

For the Packers, Nelson is second in the NFL with 351 yards receiving and tied for third in catches (23). But it would help if they got Cobb going, too. He had three short touchdown catches in the first two games, but his season high through three games is 58 yards.

"Well, I think we're close," Rodgers said. "We've had a couple opportunities, we both haven't hit on those. But I have a ton of confidence in him, you know we train together in the offseason, you know we have a lot of conversations during the week."

PEPPERS, ALLEN: The Bears replaced one top pass rusher with another when they released Julius Peppers and signed Jared Allen. While they won't be on the field at the same time, to some they might be competing against each other.

The Bears decided to go in a different direction after Peppers finished with seven sacks last season, matching the second-lowest total of his career, and parted ways with the eight-time Pro Bowl defensive end. Instead, they rebuilt a defense that ranked among the worst in franchise history and brought in Allen, hoping he could spark their pass rush and solidify their run defense.

So far?

Allen has a big zero in the sack column. Peppers had one last week at Detroit.

RUN AWAY: The Bears have a Pro Bowl running back in Matt Forte. Green Bay has last season's Offensive Rookie of the Year, Eddie Lacy. Yet, neither team is gaining much on the ground.

Forte had 17 carries for 82 yards in the season-opening loss to Buffalo. Since then, it's been 12 for 21 yards against San Francisco and 13 for 33 against the Jets.

Lacy is averaging just 3.1 yards on his 36 carries, and without much of a run game, the play action becomes less effective.

Maybe something will give this week, considering neither defense has been good at stopping the run.

PICK IT: Rookie cornerback Kyle Fuller is coming through in a big way for the Bears, particularly with Charles Tillman suffering a season-ending arm injury. Fuller picked off Colin Kaepernick twice to help the Bears rally at San Francisco and had his league-leading third interception while forcing two fumbles against the Jets.

MILESTONE VICTORIES: One team will reach a milestone in this one, assuming no tie. The Packers will either join Chicago as the only franchises with 700 victories, or the Bears will pick up win No. 750.



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