Prior to every Bears game this season, we ask a panel of experts one question to test their clairvoyant powers. The panel consists of ChicagoBears.com writers Larry Mayer and Nathan Smith; former Bears players Alex Brown, Patrick Mannelly and Jim Miller; and one guest celebrity.
This week's question is: How many yards will Cordarrelle Patterson's longest kickoff return be Sunday night against the Packers? Patterson enters Week 12 ranked second in the NFL with a 30.3-yard kickoff return yardage. That includes a 104-yard touchdown in the Bears' most recent game, a Nov. 16 loss to the Vikings, that set a record for the longest kickoff return in franchise history.
Our guest celebrity this week is Kevin Fishbain, Bears beat writer for The Athletic Chicago.
Larry Mayer, ChicagoBears.com
Prediction: Cordarrelle Patterson's longest kickoff return against the Packers will be 31 yards.
Comment: I'm not really going out on a limb here given that Patterson is averaging 30.3 yards per kickoff return. But I think his longest return Sunday night in Green Bay will be 31 yards against a Packers team that likely will try to keep the ball out of his hands either with squib kicks or pooch kicks. Here's hoping that the Bears offense will take advantage of the good field position Patterson likely will provide and that the Packers aren't kicking the ball off too many times in the game.
Nathan Smith, ChicagoBears.com
Prediction: Cordarrelle Patterson's longest kickoff return against the Packers will be 25 yards.
Comment: The Packers are as familiar with Patterson as any other team in the NFL. They are going to do everything they can to minimize his influence: pooch kicks, kicks out of the back of the end zone, etc. However, one attempt will fail and Patterson will get a decent return.
Alex Brown, former Bears defensive end
Prediction: Cordarrelle Patterson's longest kickoff return against the Packers will be 42 yards.
Comment: Special teams has been pretty good this year and very effective at getting the offense started in positive field position. I expect that to continue this week and I wouldn't be surprised to see one taken to the house.
Patrick Mannelly, former Bears long-snapper
Prediction: Cordarrelle Patterson's longest kickoff return against the Packers will be 36 yards.
Comment: The Packers are allowing 22 yards per return, and Patterson is averaging just over 30 yards a return. The Packers will be putting in extra kickoff coverage work this week to slow Patterson down. Don't be surprised to see the Packers squib-kick most of the game.
Jim Miller, former Bears quarterback
Prediction: Cordarrelle Patterson will not have a chance to return any kickoffs against the Packers.
Comment: I don't believe that the Packers will kick a returnable ball to Patterson the whole game.
Guest celebrity: Kevin Fishbain
Prediction: Cordarrelle Patterson's longest kickoff return against the Packers will be 32 yards.
Comment: Patterson is averaging 30.3 yards per kickoff return this season. Only once did Devin Hester average more than 30 yards per kick return in a game against the Packers. That has no bearing on my guess of 32 yards; I just found it interesting.