From October 6, 2007, originally published at the sadly now defunct profootballnet.com
Chicago Bears (1-3) @ Green Bay Packers (4-0)
WEEK 5 preview
Every year, somewhere in the midst of Bears-Packers week, I get the phone call. The NAME ID reads “SBXXXI Sucked.” The caller is Tony Lonien, arguably the only Packer fan I completely respect. Sometimes he calls to smack talk, and when he does, it is intelligent, focused, and painful. He knows what hurts. When Aaron Rodgers fell to Green Bay in the 2005 Draft at pick 24, Tony called and left the following message: “We just got our Favre replacement. Enjoy the next ten years.”
Most of the time, though, he calls to engage in some honest football discourse, preparation for his team’s most hated rival through conversation with one of its most loyal fans. On Saturday afternoon, after a week of waiting, I got the call.
JACK: What took you so long?
TONY: I’ve been calling you since Monday, but I kept getting this little girl’s answering machine. I thought maybe you had hired some little girl to record the message on your machine because you thought it would be funny.
JACK: (thinking) That would be funny.
TONY: So I kept calling, and she finally picked up today. I asked if Jack was there. She said no. I then called [mutual friend of ours] and got your actual number.
JACK: Figures as much.
TONY: So? What do you think? I’ve been talking to a lot of Bears fans that think you guys have a chance. Gimme a score.
JACK: Well… (pauses, breathes) I mean, despite everything else, our d-line is playing tremendous football. And our backup secondary held it together pretty nicely against Detroit. I’d feel better if Peanut [Tillman] was playing.
TONY: He’s good.
JACK: Yeah…He’s not playing, is he?
TONY: I don’t believe so.
JACK: I didn’t think he was.
TONY: And this is Favre, not Kitna.
JACK: True. But here’s the thing–
TONY: And your offensive line is terrible.
JACK: True. But–
TONY: And the best thing we’ve got going for us right now is our defensive line.
JACK: OK, but—
TONY: Besides Favre.
JACK: Right. Favre. (five full seconds of silence) OK, but here’s the thing. Our offense can’t play any worse, right?
JACK: And yes, our o-line has been brutal.
TONY: They got real old real fast. And you can make all the quarterback changes you want. You can’t do anything with a garbage offensive line.
JACK: Yes. But here’s the thing. One of two things is going to happen this season: our line is either going to turn it around, or they won’t. If they don’t, if this is what they are and we have to go to backups, then we’re toast. But if they do, then all of a sudden we are back to being the offense that everyone thought we would be, with Moose and Berrian and Dev Hester and Benson and Greg Olsen and Garrett Wolfe and all.
TONY: So gimme a score.
JACK: I mean…
TONY: I see three possibilities: Pack in a blowout, Pack in a close game, Bears in a close game. There’s no way you guys blow us out.
TONY: And this is a must-win for you guys. You’re like the Cubs right now—down 0-2 and facing elimination.
JACK: Don’t remind me.
TONY: So gimme a score.
JACK: Well, the thing is, we could lose to you guys, be 1-4, and go 8-3 the rest of the way to make the playoffs as a Wild Card 9-7. That’s legit. When we started 1-3 in 2005, there was no indication that we would rip off an 8-game win streak. But we did it. We get our line going, get some guys healthy, and all of a sudden we’re back to having the best defense in the NFC.
TONY: Hypothetically, that’s true.
JACK: Right, and other than Romo and Favre and maybe Hasselback, no quarterbacks in the NFC really scare me.
TONY: So you’re banking on your old, slow, injured offensive line suddenly turning it around in order to spark an out-of-nowhere 8-3 finish?
JACK: (no answer)
TONY: Are those the words of a man who roots for a legitimate Super Bowl contender?
JACK: Probably not.
TONY: But enough of The Future. Let’s talk tomorrow night.
JACK: Well, you guys can’t stop the run…
TONY: That is true.
JACK: So if we get Benson going, put some pressure on Favre, stop dropping passes, and come up with some big turnovers, we should be OK.
TONY: That you should. So? Score?
AFTER MUCH DELIBERATION:
JACK SEZ: Bears 24, Packers 21
TONY: 24-21. Interesting. Could happen.
TONY SEZ: Packers 33, Bears 10
AS IT TURNED OUT… Bears 27, Packers 20
And, because you deserve it…
VIDEO HIGHLIGHTS of Bears-Packers battles during the Lovie era
2008, Week 16–Packers 17 @ Bears 20 (ot)
2008, Week 11-Bears 3 @ Packers 37
2007, Week 16-Packers 7 @ Bears 35
2007, Week 5-Bears 27 @ Packers 20
2006, Week 17-Packers 26 @ Bears 7
2006, Week 1-Bears 26 @ Packers 0
2005, Week 16–Bears 24 @ Packers 17
2005, Week 13-Packers 7 @ Bears 19
2004, Week 17-Packers 31 @ Bears 14
2004, Week 2-Bears 21 @ Packers 10