The Chicago Bears and Green Bay Packers will go head-to-head for the 190th time ever on Sunday night. The Bears hold a slight edge in the all-time series 93-90-6.
The Bears (3-5) have lost the last eight of nine meetings against Green Bay (5-3), including the 2010 NFC Championship game.
Aaron Rodgers has only lost one start to the Bears in 2010. That’s not counting last year’s loss at Lambeau Field where he was knocked out by Shea McClellin and Seneca Wallace had to come on in relief.
Jay Cutler is 0-3 all-time at Green Bay if you may have not heard already, so history tells us that this isn’t a very friendly matchup for the Bears’ offense.
Dating back to the Week 4 win at Soldier Field, the Packers are winners of four of their last five, while the Bears have only won one of their last five games.
It’s time to see if the bye week actually will help the Bears in this rivalry game that they desperately need to win.
What the Packers are thinking
The Packers’ passing game has to be licking their chops after what they were able to do the first time around this season against Mel Tucker’s defense.
Despite losing the time of possession battle by over 13 minutes, Aaron Rodgers mustered 302 passing yards and four touchdown throws as the Packers scored 38 points, including 17 second-half points compared to zero by the Bears.
Jordy Nelson will be looked upon to carry the Packers down the field, while Randall Cobb and rookie Davante Adams will have plenty of chances on the outside against a shaky Bears secondary.
Eddie Lacy got involved in a big way in the Packers’ screen game in New Orleans in Week 8, catching a career-high eight passes for 123 yards. Look for Rodgers to get Lacy the ball more often than not in this one.
The biggest concern for the Packers is always their offensive line, but Rodgers finds ways to cover up that problem with quick throws and quarterback keeps. However, guards T.J. Lang and Josh Sitton could both be out in this game leaving the Packers very thin on the inside.
The Bears’ pass rush has been improved this season compared to last, so you may see the Packers leave in an extra tight end to chip block more often than not.
What the Bears are thinking
The Bears can’t feel sorry for themselves. They’ve played into a 3-5 record through the first half of the season.
One big positive to look at is the fact that the Bears totaled 496 yards of offense in the first meeting, the most in the Marc Trestman era. That included an impressive 235 rushing yards.
The Bears actually match up rather well with the Packers. Matt Forte is a mismatch in both the run and passing game, while Brandon Marshall, Alshon Jeffery and Martellus Bennett are all big-time pass catchers.
However, the biggest difference between these two teams lies under center, where Rodgers has gotten the best of Cutler over seven seasons.
This game could have a different feel to it though with Jared Allen and Jeremiah Ratliff in the starting lineup. The two veterans weren’t active in the earlier meeting this season. Either was Shea McCellin, who we could see used as a blitzing linebacker at times on Sunday night.
The keys are simple, but actually really hard to do against the Packers with Rodgers running the show.
Get Matt Forte the ball early and often either out of the backfield or in open space catching passes. The Packers’ run defense is the worst in the NFL allowing over 150 rushing yards per game.
The biggest key is to keep Rodgers off the field and have your defense resting.
This could arguably be the biggest game in Cutler’s eight plus seasons in the NFL. At the very least he can shut Chris Collinsworth up in the Sunday Night Football booth for once.
A Look Ahead
The Bears play five of their final eight regular season games at home and will play Detroit and Minnesota a total of two times each. Read up on the five Bears players you should keep an eye on in Sunday’s matchup, here.
Bears – OUT: Darryl Sharpton (hamstring), Eben Britton (illness); QUESTIONABLE: Martellus Bennett; PROBABLE: Kyle Fuller (hip/hand), Lance Briggs (ribs), Jon Bostic (back), Danny McCray (knee), Jordan Mills (foot)
—Sharpton and Britton are the only two Bears players ruled out. They are both contributors, who have been solid at times this season.
—Bennett is listed as questionable, but said he will “probably” play on Sunday night despite sitting out Friday’s practice and being limited on Thursday.
—Briggs and Bostic return to their starting spots, while Fuller, Mills and McCray are back to 100 percent.
Packers – OUT: WR Kevin Dorsey (foot); QUESTIONABLE: G T.J. Lang (ankle), G Josh Sitton (toe); PROBABLE: S Morgan Burnett (calf), QB Aaron Rodgers (hamstring), DE Datone Jones (ankle), CB Sam Shields (knee)
—Dorsey is out with a foot injury, but that isn’t a big loss as he has only caught one pass for four yards this season.
—Lang and Sitton got in limited practice sessions on Friday and appear to be fighting to start in this one. Garth Gerhart is listed as the backup left guard, while Lane Taylor is the backup at right guard. Backup center JC Tretter also saw time this week at the guard spots in practice. It will be interesting to see what the Packers end up doing if Lang and Sitton are both out.
—Burnett and Shields return to the Green Bay secondary after missing Week 8 in New Orleans.
Final Score Prediction
Bears 34, Packers 30
The Bears hung with the Packers in the first half of the Week 4 meeting earlier this season, but a couple of mistakes proved costly in the second half. On the road it won’t be easy, but the Bears could have the perfect gameplan this time around to score enough points and pull off the upset in a must-win situation. I guess I’m the only one who believes in this Bears team even when they seem like they can’t sink any lower.
Season prediction record: (2-6).
Qwikcast.com Weather Report (Green Bay, WI)
Mostly cloudy. A 20 percent chance of light snow after midnight. Lows in the upper 20s. North wind 5 to 10 mph.
Thoughts on this Bears-Packers matchup on Sunday night? Make sure to weigh in on the comment section below.