Thursday Night Football Preview: Bears at Packers

TAMPA, FL - SEPTEMBER 9: The mascot of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers celebrates a 16 - 10 victory against the Carolina Panthers at Raymond James Stadium September 9, 2012 in Tampa, Florida. (Photo by Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images)

Thursday Night Football gets started tonight, and runs throughout the season. Every team in the NFL gets a primetime game this year, and for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers that will be a Thursday Night game. On October 25, they will face off against the Minnesota Vikings. A thoroughly winnable game if the week 1 performance of both teams is any indicator, the Bucs could have a fairly easy win in Minnesota. Of course, stopping Adrian Peterson won't be as easy as stopping Deangelo Williams turned out to be - so we'll have to wait and see.

Tonight, though, the Green Bay Packers and Chicago Bears face off - and they started their season in opposite ways. The Bears beat down the Andrew Luck-led Indianapolis Colts in their first game, looking like the Super Bowl candidate they appeared to be last year - before Jay Cutler's injury. But with Cutler back and with two new toys for the star quarterback in the form of Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery, the Bears loo like they're back - and better than last year. In fact, they're on top of the NFC North after winning their first game, along with the Detroit Lions and Minnesota Vikings.

That leaves one team at the bottom: the Green Bay Packers. That's perhaps the most surprising result of week 1. Not necessarily because they lost to the San Francisco 49ers, who made it to the NFC Championship Game last year after all. Moreso because the Packers didn't look like the Packers. Their defense was lackluster - and it's not like Alex Smith is some giant, unbeatable quarterback. That defense wasn't great last year, either, but it had been good in years before - perhaps Dom Capers has lost his magic touch. More notably, though, the offense was stagnant. That's a first over the past four years: Aaron Rodgers didn't look like himself, forcing passes, lacking accuracy and running much too quickly. Can Rodgers get it right this week, or is he in for one incredible slump this season?

Finally, I have one more note for you: make sure to get in your Pick 6 choices before the game starts tonight. Last week, a Vikings fan appears to have won the Bucs Nation Pick 6 league. Meanwhile, I came in fifth. We can't let Vikings fan run our league, can we? So join in, even if you didn't play last week. It's fun, easy and free: just select six players within your budget, and see how they do. Come join us!

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