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Green Bay Packers at Chicago Bears Game Preview: Aaron Rodgers Returns for NFC North Division Title Bout

| December 26th, 2013

packPhoto from the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel

While the national media wanted to turn Sunday night’s debacle into a Jay Cutler debate (they failed), those of us who’ve watched every snap of this Chicago Bears season know better. The Bears as currently constructed and currently performing can’t beat an opponent they trail by 14-21 points. Why? Because two things have to happen for a team to eradicate a deficit that wide: they have to stop the run and they have to create turnovers. But the Bears are so bad at stopping the run the opponent never needs to throw the ball and thus the opportunity for turnovers does not present itself.

So with a defense so incapable of stopping the run…and the pass, for that matter…

Why do I like the Chicago Bears this week?

I always like the Chicago Bears.

FIRST, A RODGERS THOUGHT OR TWO…

  • I know he’s a remarkable player but his playing Sunday does not drastically impact my opinion on the game. I thought Matt Flynn and the Packers offense would have continual success moving the ball down the field on the Bears defense. How many more points does Rodgers create? 7-10? At most? Well I’ve got them in the 30s already…

BUT WHAT FOOTBALL REASONS, JEFF?

  • Bears defense since the bye week (and the Briggs/Tillman injuries that proceeded it) has not been bad at home in the least. They lost to Detroit, giving up only 21 points. They beat Baltimore, giving up only 20 points. They thrashed Dallas, giving up 28 points and 7 of those on a last-minute Kyle Orton drive that seemed to define garbage time. Their road form has been abysmal but this contest is at Soldier Field.
  • Packers are 1-2 on the road since the Rodgers injury, beating only the Cowboys in one of the NFL’s greatest collapses. In those three road games they’ve allowed 103 points.

  • In their last two road games the Packers allowed 235 yards on the ground to Detroit and 7 yards a clip to Dallas. The Bears should have a lot of success with Forte and the run game.
  • I am not sure either side will mount much in the pass rush department – especially with Clay Matthews back on the shelf – but the Bears edge rushers had their finest hour against the Pack the first time around. Will it be a repeat performance?
  • I wrote all about the importance of this game for Jay Cutler. (If you didn’t read it, you can do so by CLICKING HERE.) Cutler has had many moments of brilliance throughout his Bears career but he has not had a defining game. Bears need it Sunday.
  • Unexciting Statistical Analysis Warning! Green Bay is fourth worst in the league at covering kickoffs and seventh worst in the league at covering punts.
  • Mike McCarthy stated he expects him to play but Eddie Lacy not being at 100% and possibly not playing at all is a potentially big deal. Lacy ran over the Bears earlier this year and would have done the same Sunday. Can they get the same results from James Starks? Probably. But it is surely less definite.

TWO CHRISTMAS VIDEOS

 

MATCH-UP OF REMARKABLE IMPORTANCE

  • Marc Trestman v. Mike McCarthy. McCarthy always seems to have something special for this game, doesn’t he? A fake field goal. A well-time onside kick. Something. Trestman will be keenly aware of that and must understand that any momentary lapse in concentration on the Bears sideline could lead to a game-altering moment for the Packers. Trestman’s sideline approach must be simple: attack. He needs his offense cooking from the opening kick. He needs to empty the playbook and once the playbook is empty he needs to draft another playbook and empty that. There is zero excuse for the Bears not scoring 28+ at home in a game to decide the division. None.

MOST INTERESTING PLAYER ON THE FIELD

  • Packers QB Aaron Rodgers, of course. Should we expect Rodgers to be a bit rusty Sunday? Sure. But I can’t imagine it will take him long to develop a rhythm with the receiving corps and move the ball on this porous Bears defense. The true test for Rodgers will be how he handles contact and it’s incumbent upon the Bears make sure that test is administered. Hit Rodgers early. Hit Rodgers often. If they give him a free pocket and room to roam they’ll be dissected.

WRAPPING IT UP IN A FEW SENTENCES

  • Aaron Rodgers playing means Bears will not be able to rely upon a timely Matt Flynn turnover to change the momentum or field position battle. Instead Trestman, Cutler and the bevy of offensive talent win the day with their most complete four-quarter performance of 2013.

FINAL SCORE

Chicago Bears 38, Green Bay Packers 31

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