THE BASICS

The teams: The Green Bay Packers (9-4) vs. the Chicago Bears (8-5).

The time: Noon CST Sunday.

The place: Soldier Field, Chicago.

The TV coverage:  FOX – WITI (Ch. 6 in Milwaukee), WMSN (Ch. 47 in Madison) and WLUK (Ch. 11 in Green Bay).

The announcers: Joe Buck and Troy Aikman in the booth and Pam Oliver reporting from the sideline.

The coaches: Green Bay's Mike McCarthy is 78-40 (including 5-3 in the postseason) in his seventh season as the Packers' coach and as an NFL head coach. The Bears’ Lovie Smith is 82-65 (including 3-3 in the postseason) in his ninth year as the Bears’ coach and as an NFL head coach.

The series:  The Bears lead the all-time regular-season series, 91-87-6, although the Packers have won seven of the last eight meetings (including playoff games). The Packers swept the season series last year, winning 35-21 at Lambeau Field on Dec. 25 and winning at Chicago 27-17 on Sept. 25, 2011, and also won the first meeting this season, 23-10 at Lambeau Field on Sept. 13.

The rankings: The Packers’ 17th-ranked offense is No. 18 in rushing and No. 12 in passing. Their 17th-ranked defense is No. 15 against the run and No. 17 against the pass. The Bears’ 28th-ranked offense is No. 10 in rushing and No. 17 in passing. Their fifth-ranked defense is No. 12 against the run and No. 6 against the pass.

The line:  The Packers are favored by 2.5 points.

The injury report: 

PACKERS

Out – WR Jordy Nelson (hamstring), S Charles Woodson (collarbone), RB James Starks (knee), DE C.J. Wilson (knee).

Questionable – WR Donald Driver (thumb), ILB Terrell Manning (shoulder), RG Josh Sitton (hip).

Probable – G/T T.J. Lang (ankle), OLB Clay Matthews (hamstring), DE Mike Neal (shoulder), S Jerron McMillian (back), CB Davon House (illness), LT Marshall Newhouse (wrist).

BEARS

Out – WR Earl Bennett (concussion), CB Tim Jennings (shoulder), LB Brian Urlacher (hamstring).

Doubtful – DE Shea McClellin (knee), DT Henry Melton (chest),

Questionable – LB Geno Hayes (knee), RB Michael Bush (ribs), DT Matt Toeaina (knee).

Probable – LB Lance Briggs (knee/hip), QB Jay Cutler (neck/knee), TE Kellen Davis (knee), T Jonathan Scott (shoulder), DT Stephen Paea (foot), CB Charles Tillman (shoulder), G Chris Spencer (knee).

 

THE BREAKDOWN: FIVE THINGS TO WATCH

Talking takeaways:  While bolting to a 7-1 start, the Bears forced a whopping 28 turnovers in the first eight games, and returned eight of those turnovers for touchdowns. Since then, the Bears have managed only seven takeaways in their last five games, and not coincidentally, Chicago is 1-4 in those games. While the Bears still lead the NFL in takeaways (35), it’s become obvious that their defense has to take the ball away to be successful.

That’s been the case in Chicago’s matchups with the Packers, too. The Packers’ only loss to Bears in the teams’ last six meetings – in Week 3 of the 2010 season at Chicago -- was when they lost the turnover battle. They were minus-1 in turnover differential in that game, then were even in the regular-season finale at Lambeau Field and plus-1 in the NFC Championship Game in Chicago. Last season, the turnovers were even in the first meeting and the Packers were plus-2 in the second. And in the Sept. 13 meeting this season, Cutler threw four interceptions and the Packers were plus-2 on the night.

Meanwhile, the Packers defense has forced 13 turnovers in the last five games between the teams (including playoffs), with nine interceptions in four games against Cutler. By comparison, Aaron Rodgers has thrown only five interceptions in those games. The Packers also have 19 takeaways this season in their nine victories but a grand total of one in their four losses.