(SportsNetwork.com) - Relax.
That was the one-word message Aaron Rodgers sent to Green Bay Packers fans as his struggling team gets ready to face its biggest rival, the Chicago Bears.
"Five letters here just for everybody out there in Packer-land: R-E-L-A-X," Rodgers said Tuesday on his ESPN Milwaukee radio show. "Relax. We're going to be OK."
That remains to be seen but one thing is certain right now, the Green Bay offense has been very un-Packerlike through three games, ranking 28th in a 32- team league.
Rodgers also hasn't been his accurate self, completing just 62.7 percent of his passes, a standard well below his career mark. Meanwhile, the All-Pro has failed to throw for 200 yards in two of his three starts this season.
Last weekend it was the Detroit Lions giving Rodgers and Co. fits en route to a 19-7 win at Ford Field.
Rodgers never found a rhythm against the Lions and finished the game a paltry 16-for-27 for 162 yards, the second-lowest total in any game he's finished. Second-year running back Eddie Lacy also continued to struggle, gaining only 36 yards on 11 carries, while Jordy Nelson led the way for the receivers, snaring five balls for 59 yards.
The offense also allowed a 40-yard fumble return for a score and a safety.
"Disappointing loss, especially because we knew how tough it was going to be coming up here," said Green Bay head coach Mike McCarthy. "The way I see it, we didn't take advantage of our opportunities on offense."
The Bears, meanwhile, did take advantage of a little help from the officials to edge the New York Jets on "Monday Night Football," 27-19.
Jay Cutler completed 23-of-38 passes for 225 yards and the two scores to Martellus Bennett for Chicago in that one. Alshon Jeffery, playing through a hamstring injury, made eight catches for 105 yards, while Bennett became the third player in the NFL this season with at least one receiving touchdown in all three games. He trails only Denver tight end Julius Thomas for the league lead in receiving scores with four.
The Bears failed to establish a running game for the second straight week, however, as two-time Pro Bowl running back Matt Forte carried 13 times for 33 yards, and Chicago picked up just 60 yards on the ground as a whole one week after gaining only 46 in a win over San Francisco.
"They're just a tough defense to play," Bears coach Marc Trestman admitted. "They come at you from so many different ways and not only do they come after you with scheme they come at you with excellent players."
The Bears' battered defense picked off Geno Smith twice, sacked him three times and allowed just one touchdown in six trips to the red zone.
Smith had an opportunity to tie the game with a late scoring drive, but the Bears D held up one last time, forcing a turnover on downs from the 9-yard line with less than a minute left.
"Our defense stayed poised and knew that everything would work out for us," said rookie cornerback Kyle Fuller, who recorded his third interception on the young season.
Chicago was also the recipient of a missed call by the officials in which Jets linebacker Demario Davis scooped up a Cutler fumble and had a clear path to the end zone but the play was whistled dead on the field.
The Bears lead their all-time series with Green Bay, which is the longest- running rivalry in the sport, by a 92-88-6 margin but the Packers have won six of the past seven.
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The Packers are already 0-2 on the road this season and they haven't started 0-for-3 away from Lambeau Field since the 2005 season. Meanwhile, they've won four straight at Soldier Field, including the NFC Championship Game in January of 2011.
There can be no more excuses for this Green Bay team. Rodgers is 10-2 against the Bears, winning seven straight when he starts and finishes, including a Week 17 win over Chicago last season which sent the Pack to the postseason and the Bears into hibernation.
Meanwhile Lacy averaged 108 yards and has two TDs in two games against Chicago in his rookie season, while Nelson had 10 catches for 161 yards in the last meeting between the two clubs.
"We haven't been a sharp offense. I haven't been as sharp," Rodgers said. "We've all got to do better."
The Bears' Shea McClellin put Rodgers on the shelf for a good portion of the 2013 campaign by breaking the QB's collarbone in a Week 9 matchup in Green Bay but A-Rod returned to the lineup for the final game, converting a 4th-and-8 from the Chicago's 48-yard line with 46 seconds left by extending the play and finding Randall Cobb for a touchdown. The big play lifted Green Bay to a 33-28 victory and the NFC North title.
This time around Rodgers will be facing a Bears defense that isn't all that impressive when healthy and is currently very-banged up.
McClellin (broken hand) has already been ruled out for this game and defensive tackle Jay Ratliff (concussion) and safeties Ryan Mundy (stinger) and Chris Conte (shoulder) are all iffy. Meanwhile, veteran cornerback Charles Tillman is already lost for the season with a torn right triceps.
"I'm feeling good right now and just doing the necessary things I need to do to make sure I'm ready to play on Sunday," Mundy said.
The health problems also reach over to the Chicago offense where center Roberto Garza and left guard Matt Slauson are expected to miss another contest with ankle injuries.
Cutler, meanwhile, generally struggles against Green Bay, amassing an ugly 18 interceptions versus just 11 touchdowns in 10 career meetings with the Packers.
The contest will also mark the return of veteran Packers edge rusher Julius Peppers to Chicago, where he had 37 1/2 sacks and earned three Pro-Bowl honors from 2010-13.
It's time for Cutler and the Bears to exorcise some demons here and it's not the time to "relax" just yet for Green Bay. Detroit solved Rodgers last week and now it's the Bears turn.
Sports Network predicted outcome: Bears 27, Packers 23