Chicago at Green Bay (Friday 0125BST, Sky Sports Main Event and Action)
It’s gritty, blue-collar action all the way on Thursday night as two big rivals from the NFC North slug it out at Lambeau Field.
Just 200 miles of Lake Michigan shoreline separate the pair and is the only game the Bears will travel to via coach so it is about as close to a bitter local rivalry as you can get in the NFL.
Mercurial Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers tends to add a bit of panache to proceedings and boasts a 14-4 career home record against this opponent but both teams have been struggling to find their best form so far this season – certainly a surprise for the Packers.
They had to dig pretty deep in week one to outlast Seattle, were then no match for Atlanta and almost completely lost the plot against a previously toothless Cincinnati before Rodgers produced some late-game fireworks to get them level and then set up an overtime success.
Rodgers invariably takes this team on his shoulders at some stage and his remarkable skills are going to be put to the test again here with all five starters on the offensive line either already ruled out or serious doubts, necessitating them to sign Ulrick John off the Arizona practice squad.
There was some tentative positive news as tackles Bryan Bulaga and David Bakhtiari took part in some limited practice on Tuesday but neither have managed a snap together since week two of the pre-season, so who exactly will be trying to keep the main asset upright remains up in the air.
Whoever suits up will face a Chicago defensive front that has impressed so far and managed to limit the explosive attacks of Atlanta and Pittsburgh to few very big plays.
They eventually ground down the latter for a first victory of the season in overtime in near-90 degree heat at Soldier Field last weekend as they relied heavily on a powerful run game which produced 220 yards on the ground via Jordan Howard (carrying a shoulder injury) and Tarik Cohen.
They are developing into quite a dynamic combination and Green Bay’s main job will be to try to slow them down and ask the serious question of whether quarterback Mike Glennon can beat them with the passing game.
He managed just 101 yards against the Steelers, showed little inclination to attempt the deep ball despite possessing a very strong arm and has hardly looked the part for a player who signed a $40m deal in the off-season.
Glennon had a bit of a shocker the previous week against old team Tampa Bay but was not helped in their latest encounter by a number of dropped passes and if Howard and Cohen continue to dominate then the resilient former Buccaneer could see things start to loosen up for one or two more daring throws.
That said, if it is not broken don’t fix it as Chicago’s running game is such a strength currently and collides with another apparent Green Bay weakness in their rushing defense which is ranked 21st in the league through three weeks.
Both teams were involved in tumultuous, draining victories at the weekend and picking it back up once more four days later will require both to dig deep into their reserves physically and mentally.
Such a great rivalry – which stands at 94-94 all time with six ties – will help get the adrenalin going on both sides and although the seemingly limitless moxie shown by Rodgers scares me, I will take the visitors to put up a competitive effort getting a start on the spread.
Prediction: Chicago 21-23 Green Bay
Click here for our transparent tipping record.
Posted at 1640 BST on 27/09/17.