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Another big rivalry game for Bears-Packers

  • Chicago Bears defensive tackle Matt Toeaina (75), before the start of the game against the Indianapolis Colts at Soldier Field, in Chicago, on Sunday, September 9, 2012. (Nuccio DiNuzzo/Chicago Tribune)
Chicago Bears defensive tackle Matt Toeaina (75), before the start of the…
September 11, 2012|Adam Lukach, @lucheezy | RedEye

The Bears-Packers rivalry is a long and storied one, and this week finds the two division foes facing another huge game in the series.

Heading into Thursday night's matchup with the Bears, the Packers find themselves at the bottom of the division while their Windy City rivals are hungry to bury them further. On Sunday, the Pack fell to the 49ers at Lambeau Field, while the Lions and Vikings squeaked out wins and the Bears throttled the Colts.

If the Bears can hand the Packers a second loss Thursday--one more than they had all of last season--they can remain on top of what some consider football's toughest division and keep Green Bay in last place.

"We wanted to make a statement across the league that we made some improvements in the offseason, depth at a lot of key positions, and we wanted to let them know the Bears are here," Tim Jennings said.

Jennings, along with most of the team, stepped up hugely Sunday, replacing cornerback Charles Tillman and picking off Colts quarterback Andrew Luck twice. Tillman is still banged up, along with Brian Urlacher, but coach Lovie Smith said he expects both to be ready for Thursday. The Packers might be minus receiver Greg Jennings.

The teams' storied rivalry looms over what is already a crucial early-season matchup for the clubs.

Competition between the two teams began Nov. 27, 1921, when the Bears defeated the Packers (of course) 20-0. Since then, it has blossomed as the NFL's oldest rivalry, and the Bears lead the series 91-85-6. The teams have met twice during the playoffs and split the games. They have combined for 22 NFL titles (five of which are Super Bowls), 31 division titles and produced 48 Hall of Fame players.

The all-time scoring also favors the Bears at just 3098-3010, an average difference of less than a point per game, showing just how close this rivalry has been. While the Bears dominated from 1940 to 1960, the Packers went 22-10 versus the Bears during the Brett Favre era. It could have been much worse, as Dave Wannstadt and Dick Jauron combined to go 4-20 during their regimes; Lovie Smith won six of his first eight games vs. Green Bay.

But now the Bears have lost four in a row to Aaron Rodgers and the Packers, and it won't be any easier this week. Quarterback Jay Cutler owns a 1-5 record against Green Bay and will have to try to snatch a win at Lambeau on just three days of rest.

"Any time you only have two or three days, it's going to be hard. Especially on the road," Cutler said. "I think everyone is going to be amped up for this."

While Cutler has struggled mightily against the team's up-north rivals, adding receiver Brandon Marshall, especially considering their immediate, productive chemistry, should help right the ship.

The Packers defense surrendered almost 400 yards of total offense to San Francisco and failed to create a turnover for the first time since the Chiefs defeated them in December.

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