GREEN BAY, Wis. (WFRV) – The 200th meeting between the Packers and Bears has plenty at stake for both organizations, and since they each have such a rich history, Sunday’s showdown will simply add another chapter to their bitter rivalry.
Green Bay can eliminate Chicago from postseason contention, which is exactly what happened to the interim coach Joe Philbin-led Packers last year at Soldier Field. It was the second straight season without playoff action in Titletown and only the third time in Aaron Rodgers’ starting career that he didn’t lead Green Bay into meaningful games in January.
At this point, the Packers are a virtual lock to make it into the playoffs for the first time in three years unless they lose their final three games. While the Bears have extremely slim postseason hopes and have to win their final three games just to be considered.
In week 1, it was a game similar to the origins of football. A defensive battle to open the NFL’s 100th season with Green Bay hanging onto a 10-3 victory. Anytime you play a team for the second time, there are several factors at hand which each team can use as motivation. Especially when each club is very evenly matched.
Mitchell Trubisky has looked like a different quarterback over the last month, especially in the past two games where he has played arguably some of the best football of his professional career. Several players on the Packers defense commented this week as to how good he really is with his feet and that his decision-making has gotten better over the course of the season.
In addition to their newfound prowess on offense, the Bears are still bringing it on defense and are ranked 4th in the points allowed. Throw in the return of Akiem Hicks and that could change the dynamics upfront in a big way.
“You better have a plan for them and you know where they’re going to line up primarily on first and second down but on third down they do a good job,” said Packers head coach Matt LaFleur. “Chuck Pagano has done a really nice job of moving those guys around and we’ve just got to make sure that we’re giving the quarterback concepts that allows him to get the ball out of his hands if need be as well as change up some of our stuff protection scheme.”
LaFleur also knows that the Bears front 7 is more than just Khalil Mack, the former defensive MVP.
“He can line up either side, even on third downs they’ll put them inside as well, so I think that they’re probably doing it to keep us off-balance so you can’t slide everything towards him. He is an elite pass rusher one of the best in the game, but he’s not the only guy they have. They’ve got about five of those guys that are pretty darn good, so we’re going to have to make sure we do a good job of mixing up our protections.”
If the Packers’ biggest concern is Mack and the Bears defense, then Chicago should be wary of Green Bay’s 2-time MVP. As their starter, Aaron Rodgers has some ridiculous numbers and has been a Bear killer.
Rodgers’ overall record is 18-5 with an overall passer rating of 103.2. Rodgers has posted a 100-plus passer rating in six of their last 10 matchups, including a rating of 130.7 at Lambeau last year. Last week Washington linebacker Jon Bostic said basically that you have to stop the run first, and as crazy as it may sound, make Rodgers beat you. Bears head coach Matt Nagy doesn’t quite see it that way but he’s also worried about the other Aaron…Jones.
“I think that Aaron Jones brings a dimension that you’re starting to see a real big trust factor between, really, the coaching staff, and Aaron Rodgers. They are moving him around and doing a lot of different things.”
And considering the weather forecast for Sunday appears to be brutally cold with a high temperature of 16° and wind chill possibly below zero, you can expect a heavy dose of the latter of the two Aarons, which should bode well for the Packers.
LaFleur closed, “We’re anticipating a very intense, very physical football game, I mean you’ve got two teams that have got a lot to play for. And a division rival. I think the fans, there’s no doubt about it, I think the stadium will be electric, and we need our fans to really give us the edge on Sunday.”