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Bears-Lions A Must Watch For Packers Fans

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The game to watch for all of you cheeseheads this week is the Bears vs. Lions while the Pack are on a bye. Photo by John Grieshop/Getty Images.
The game to watch for all of you cheeseheads this week is the Bears vs. Lions while the Pack are on a bye. Photo by John Grieshop/Getty Images.

Ah, the NFL bye week. It comes unusually early for the Green Bay Packers this year. Only three games in, the Packers are already taking a week off before embarking on a 13-consecutive-weeks grind. It’s easy for the players to figure out what to do. Rest up, get healthy and refocus for the grueling stretch ahead.

For Packers fans, it’s also not too hard to figure out what to do. While there always is plenty of football to watch on the NFL Sundays when Green Bay doesn’t suit up, there’s one game every cheesehead must watch – the Chicago Bears versus the Detroit Lions.

Already down in the NFC North standings at 1-2, this game will tell the Packers just how difficult climbing back the top will be. The Lions (2-1) and the Bears (3-0) both have looked like strong teams so far. The season is very young, but the game-four mark is when you can really start to tell what a team’s season will be like.

The Bears seem to be poised as one of the NFC’s favorites to reach the Super Bowl. Their defense is still ferocious and turnover magnetic as ever. Under Marc Trestman, their offense finally looks not only good, but consistent. Their offensive line has gone from awful to decent, which in of itself would be plenty to make Packers fans scared, but Jay Cutler also has improved. He, Brandon Marshall and Matt Forte have been one of the league’s strongest quarterback-wide receiver-running back trios in the league.

The Lions have rebounded from a disappointing 2012 season to become a strong playoff contender. Their offense is just as explosive as ever. Matthew Stafford, Calvin Johnson and Reggie Bush form an electric combination themselves. Their defensive line trio of Ndamukong Suh, Nick Fairley and Ezekiel Ansah isn’t too shabby, either. Ansah figured to be a raw project that would take time to blossom into a star, but he hasn’t wasted any time making his presence felt. An explosive offense combined with a destructive defensive line is a deadly combination.

Whether each team continues to perform at a high level this week will be a telling sign of the future. Are these two squads actually improved, or are they just on a hot streak to begin the season? The outcome itself is largely irrelevant. Someone has to lose, and someone has to win. The quality of play itself is much more important.

The Lions defense versus the Bears offense will be most intriguing. Those units have been the ones holding back their respective teams from going to the next level, and both seem to have turned a corner.

Packers fans should be anxious for this game. Although Green Bay is only down one and two games to Detroit and Chicago, respectively, the division lead could be very far away. We’ll find out just how far this Sunday.