Bears-Packers is always a fun game to watch, but it’s pretty amazing that in Thursday night’s matchup at Lambeau Field that the two historic NFL franchises have never met on Thanksgiving in 189 previous meetings. Green Bay hasn’t hosted a game on Thanksgiving since 1923.
This will be the second matchup between the two NFC North rivals this season as Green Bay beat the Bears 31-23 in the season home opener at Soldier Field.
Now with the game taking place at Lambeau Field the Bears have had practices all week and will again be without an offensive weapon and now a starter and a role player offensively as well.
Wide receiver Eddie Royal will miss his fourth straight game due to a knee injury while tight end Martellus Bennett was ruled out with a ribs injury as he was limited this week in practice. He has a team-leading 50 receptions, so his presence will be sorely missed. Backup running back Ka’Deem Carey (head) is out after he suffered a concussion last Sunday.
As for the questionable tag, the Bears have six players listed there. Safety Antrel Rolle (knee/ankle) might as well be listed as out for the second straight week considering Vic Fangio said he expects Chris Prosinski to start again.
Running back Matt Forte (knee), wide receiver Alshon Jeffery (groin) and outside linebacker Pernell McPhee (knee) are all questionable, but appear to be ready to go for this important game. Forte returns after missing the last three weeks due to an MCL sprain while Jeffery missed last Sunday and McPhee was limited against Denver with his lingering knee injury.
Special teamers, safety Sherrod Martin and linebacker LaRoy Reynolds are both questionable with knee injuries.
Overall, the Bears have been getting healthier over the past few weeks and with the return of both Forte and Jeffery that will really boost the offense. However, Bennett has been a top target while Rolle’s craftiness on the back end can’t be replaced.
Here are the five Bears to watch as they head out to Lambeau Field to face the Packers.
Before Matt Forte suffered an MCL sprain in Week 8, the eighth-year back had 767 total yards from scrimmage and five touchdowns. Now the soon to be 30-year-old is back and is going to be the top man out of the Bears’ backfield ahead of fourth round pick Jeremy Langford.
Over his last five games against Green Bay, Forte has four 100-yard rushing outputs and four total touchdowns. He’s averaging 111 yards from scrimmage against the Packers in 14 career games.
Langford will pace Forte often, but this is the veteran’s backfield and rightfully so considering he’s been so steady and versatile year after year. Watch Forte all night in his return, this game could really do wonders for his free agent value.
Well, Martellus Bennett is out. That means the now popular Zach Miller will propel to the No. 1 tight end spot and rookie Khari Lee will be the No. 2 tight end.
Miller had only three catches for 35 yards in seven games this season prior to his unbelievable Week 9 where he put himself on the map with a 25-yard one-handed touchdown to win the game in San Diego. He followed that up with a five catch, 107-yard, two touchdown performance in Week 10. He had three grabs for 47 yards last Sunday.
Now, the 31-year-old Miller will get his first shot at being the guy in the tight end room. The Packers have allowed the fifth most receiving yards (709) along with 58 receptions and five touchdowns.
A 2011 fourth round pick by Jacksonville, safety Chris Prosinski made his first start since the 2013 season last Sunday. He had an up and down performance in the place of Antrel Rolle.
Prosinski had six tackles and his first career sack. The Wyoming product made nine starts from 2011-13 with the Jaguars before playing in Philadelphia in 2014 and then being claimed by the Bears in late September.
He has a huge task ahead of him against Aaron Rodgers and the Packers offense that should have a chip on their shoulder after not playing up to par.
Plucked off the Packers practice squad on Oct. 17, defensive lineman Bruce Gaston has six tackles over the last three weeks including his first career sack last Sunday.
Even though this is Gaston’s fifth team in two seasons, the Purdue product has looked like a future piece along the defensive line in Vic Fangio’s 4-3 defense. You can bet he’ll be excited to go up against his former team that he played the first two games of the year with.
In his first game with the Bears last week, Thompson had two kick returns for 54 yards. The fourth-year Florida product showed that he is a big upgrade over the predictable Marc Mariani. This is his audition for the starting returner job next season lets see if he can run away with it.
Thoughts on the Thanksgiving night matchup between the Bears and Packers? Make sure to comment below.
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