Matt ForteThe Chicago Bears (4-3) will travel north to take on the Green Bay Packers (5-2) with first place on the line.

Chicago began the season with a 3-0 record, and all appeared to be going well under the new coaching regime.

However, thanks to injuries on both sides of the football, along with a banged up defense, the Bears currently stand at 4-3, and now find themselves battling to remain in playoff contention.

Meanwhile, the Packers began the season with just one victory through the first three games, and despite dealing with their fair share of injuries, they have posted four straight victories.

As a result, they sit atop the NFC North division, and they will look to put some distance between themselves and their divisional counterparts.

But enough of the boring stuff. Let's take a look at my three predictions from this Week 9 matchup.

 

1) Josh McCown will play well

This sounds like an insane statement on the surface, especially when you take into consideration that the last time Cutler was sidelined with an injury, his backup, Caleb Hanie, threw nine interceptions in four games in the 2011 season that saw the team record just one win in the final six contests.

That was then and this is now. Despite being out of the league for the past two years, McCown played solid against the Washington Redskins. He completed 14 of 20 passes for 204 yards and touchdown, while rushing for 33 yards.

Being that the talent on this roster is much better than what was there two seasons ago, the only thing McCown has to do is play to his strengths and get the ball to his playmakers -- Matt Forte, Brandon Marshall, Alson Jeffery and Martellus Bennett.

That being said, McCown will play well for a second consecutive week.

2) Bears' defense will finally show up

Chicago is hurting on the defensive side of the footall to say the least. Henry Melton, Nate Collins and D.J. Williams have all succumbed to season-ending injuries. In addition to that, Lance Briggs is expected to miss approximately four to six weeks due to shoulder injury he sustained against the Redskins, and Charles Tillman is dealing with a sore knee.

All of these factors sounds like a recipe for disaster when the opposing quarterback this week is Aaron Rodgers. As if playing against a quarterback who doesn't make many mistakes isn't bad enough, the Packers are also averaging over 140 yards on the ground, which makes them a formidable foe on multiple fronts. 

In spite of what the numbers reflect, the Bears know they need to win in order to remain in the playoff race, and their effort in this game will reflect that fact.

While Rodgers will make his fair share of plays, the Bears' defense will play well enough to slow down the Packers' running game. Along with that, look for the Bears to force at least two turnovers due to the fact they are ranked fifth in the league with 18 takeaways.


3) Bears are going to win in a close one

Chicago has dropped six consecutive games to Green Bay, including five straight losses at Lambeau Field. This sounds like another win in the making for the home team, correct?

Not so fast my friends. While the trends between these two clubs favors the Packers, numbers don't always tell the entire story.

The Bears are a desperate team right now, and they know what they need to do in order to be successful against a talented, well-coached opponent.

Simply put, if they're able to execute their game plan in a hostile environment, they will leave Lambeau Field with a victory.