American football: Bears aiming to send Green Bay packing in battle of perfect starts

Through a sloppy pre-season and an opening win that felt more like a loss, the Chicago Bears insisted they're NFL title contenders.

They pulled off an eye-opening 27-20 victory over the Dallas Cowboys last week, but they have a chance to make believers out of doubters when they host the Green Bay Packers on Monday.

Both teams are unbeaten and tied atop the NFC North division, adding a little extra sizzle to the 180th chapter of the NFL's oldest rivalry.

"It's always tough to play down in Chicago," said the Packers' quarterback Aaron Rodgers . "They're 2-0, we're 2-0, it's going to be a big game."

Never mind the pre-season or that ugly opener against Detroit, when a rules technicality wiped out what looked like a winning touchdown catch by the Lions' Calvin Johnson, the Bears signed Pro Bowl defensive end Julius Peppers and running back Chester Taylor in the off-season, and brought in new offensive coordinator Mike Martz so they would not miss the playoffs for a fourth straight year.

"We know who we are in our house," said the Bears' defensive end Israel Idonije. "We quietly go about our business. We have a lot of talented players in all three phases."

That talent will be put to the test by Rodgers and the Packers, even though they have a short-handed secondary and are missing starting running back Ryan Grant, who suffered a season-ending right ankle injury in the opener against Philadelphia, a major blow.

The winner will take a stranglehold on the NFC North after the Minnesota Vikings' early struggles.

Vikings quarterback Brett Favre has looked his age in two defeats. His team-mates, other than running back Adrian Peterson, have looked old, too, so maybe it's time they rode Peterson against a weak Detroit defense and let 40-year-old Favre be a passenger.

Minnesota cannott afford to lose again and fall to 0-3 on Sunday. After their bye next week, the Vikings face the New York Jets, Dallas, Green Bay and New England Patriots in October.

The Lions have been not quite been good enough to win close games.

The Jets find themselves in another bad-blood match-up at the Miami Dolphins. First it was Baltimore, then New England. The boos are certain to rain down on Jets receiver Braylon Edwards, who was arrested for drink-driving this week, and Jets coach Rex Ryan, who flipped his middle finger at a fan at a mixed martial arts event in South Florida during Pro Bowl week in January. A more mixed reception is likely for Jason Taylor, who will be playing against the Dolphins for the first time after 12 seasons with Miami.

"I'm sure he's going to get cheered," Ryan said. "The rest of us are the ones who are going to get crushed by the fans."

The Dolphins expect such a raucous atmosphere they piped in crowd noise during practice this week, as if preparing to play on the road.

Transformed by a defensive makeover, the Dolphins have allowed only two touchdowns, one on a one-yard drive after a turnover. They're 2-0 for the first time since 2002, and they opened the season with two road wins – at Buffalo and Minnesota – for the first time since 1977.

The Buffalo Bills, after a winless start, have dumped quarterback Trent Edwards for the more mobile Ryan Fitzpatrick in hope of ending a 13-game losing run to New England.

This is an especially bad week to be meeting New England, who were manhandled by the Jets in the second half last Sunday. Plus, Buffalo's awful offense (a league-low 17 points) might not be equipped to victimise the Patriots' struggling defense.

Elsewhere on Sunday, it's Atlanta at New Orleans; Dallas at Houston; Pittsburgh at Tampa Bay; Indianapolis at Denver; Tennessee at the New York Giants; Philadelphia at Jacksonville; San Diego at Seattle; Oakland at Arizona; Cleveland at Baltimore; Cincinnati at Carolina; San Francisco at Kansas City; and Washington at St Louis.

Voices
There will be a chance to bid for a rare example of the SAS Diary, collated by a former member of the regiment in the aftermath of World War II but only published – in a limited run of just 5,000 – in 2011
charity appealTime is running out to secure your favourite lot as our auction closes at 2pm today
News
people
News
Elton John and David Furnish exchange marriage vows
peopleSinger posts pictures of nuptials throughout the day
News
File: James Woods attends the 52nd New York Film Festival at Walter Reade Theater on September 27, 2014
peopleActor was tweeting in wake of NYPD police shooting
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Sport
Martin Skrtel heads in the dramatic equaliser
SPORTLiverpool vs Arsenal match report: Bandaged Martin Skrtel heads home in the 97th-minute
Arts and Entertainment
The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit director Peter Jackson with his star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame
film
News
people
News
Billie Whitelaw was best known for her close collaboration with playwright Samuel Beckett, here performing in a Beckett Trilogy at The Riverside Studios, Hammersmith
people'Omen' star was best known for stage work with Samuel Beckett
Arts and Entertainment
Mark Wright has won The Apprentice 2014
tvThe Apprentice 2014 final
News
i100
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Receptionist

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This law firm is seeking a happy, helpful and ...

The Jenrick Group: Production Supervisor

£26000 - £29000 per annum + Holidays & Pension: The Jenrick Group: Production ...

The Jenrick Group: Project Engineer

£33000 - £35000 per annum + Pension and holidays: The Jenrick Group: Project E...

The Jenrick Group: Maintenance Technician

£35200 per annum + Pension and holidays: The Jenrick Group: Maintenance Engine...

Day In a Page

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there
The 12 ways of Christmas: Spare a thought for those who will be working to keep others safe during the festive season

The 12 ways of Christmas

We speak to a dozen people who will be working to keep others safe, happy and healthy over the holidays
Birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends, new study shows

The male exhibits strange behaviour

A new study shows that birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends...
Diaries of Evelyn Waugh, Virginia Woolf and Noël Coward reveal how they coped with the December blues

Famous diaries: Christmas week in history

Noël Coward parties into the night, Alan Clark bemoans the cost of servants, Evelyn Waugh ponders his drinking…
From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

The great tradition of St Paul and Zola reached its nadir with a hungry worker's rant to Russell Brand, says DJ Taylor
A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore: A prodigal daughter has a breakthrough

A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore

The story was published earlier this month in 'Poor Souls' Light: Seven Curious Tales'