When Lovie Smith was hired in 2004, he said that his first goal as a head football coach was to beat the Packers. For so many years, the Packers have had the Bears number and he wanted to make sure the Bears had the upper hand under his watch.
Smith has an overall record of 8-5 against the Packers but were swept last season. It's time to return the favor this season in what could be the most important Bears-Packers game in recent memory.
If Bears beat the Packers, they'll be eliminated from the playoffs. If they don't, there's a good chance the Bears will fall to the 3rd seed and have to face their rivals at Soldier Field the following week.
Unlike the Bears, the Packers are a team that everyone fears. The Packers have the 7th ranked offense in the league. Aaron Rodgers, has thrown for 3,693 yards and has a 101.6 QB rating with 27 touchdown passes and only 10 interception - all this without having much of a consistent running game and without Jermichael Finley.
While many will think the Packers' offense is their strength, their defense is even better as they are ranked 2nd in the NFL. Clay Matthews is 2nd in the league in sacks with 12.5 and is up for defensive player of the year honors. The secondary is an improving group lead by Charles Woodson, who won defensive player of the year in 2009.
For the Bears, their defense needs to find away to contain Rodgers and the Packers' offense. The Rush Men didn't produce a sack last week against the Jets but did cause 2 turnovers. Although the Bears' defense has been dominant throughout the season, at times, they have been exposed to long gains and susceptible to time consuming drives. Against the Jets, they gave up 27 (7 off a pick 6) and 36 against the Patriots a couple weeks back. In their first meeting, the Packers only scored 17 points but racked up 370 yards on offense.
As for the offense, since the bye week, the run-pass ratio has improved which has helped the Bears to go on a 7-1 streak. Per Zach Zaidman, Matt Forte is averaging 4.4 yards per carry and in the past 5 games is averaging 5.7 yards per carry. Since the bye, Forte has produced against 4 teams that are in the top 10 in rush defenses (Jets, Vikings, Eagles and Dolphins).
If any of the statement games (Packers, Eagles, Patriots and Jets) failed to convert the skeptics, this one will.