Members of the Chicago Bears and the Green Bay Packers line-up at Soldier Field on September 25, 2011 in Chicago, Illinois.
Even if you're celebrating Christmas, let's be honest. You're still going to tune in to watch the Bears play the Packers. Though the Bears have faltered and this won't be the battle of titans that we all had hoped for, it's still Bears/Packers. It's still the NFL's best and oldest rivalry. It's still Lambeau Field on Sunday night. Here's what you need to know before you tune in.
New faces to lead offense: After injuries to Jay Cutler and Matt Forte, the Bears relied on Caleb Hanie and Marion Barber. Neither man lived up to expectation, and both have lost their starting jobs. Josh McCown will start at quarterback, and Kahlil Bell will be the starting running back due to Barber's calf injury.
Aaron Rodgers Is Really, Really Good: To win, the Bears need to take advantage of Rodgers slowing down recently. His quarterback rating dipped below 100 for the first time n the last two games. He is still averaging 311 yards per game, and has at least one touchdown pass in every game, so the Bears pass rush needs to get their hands on Rodgers early and often to slow him down.
High-Powered Offense: Behind Rodgers, Green Bay has hit the 42-point mark five times this season, and leads the league in both points scored and point differential. Though Greg Jennings is out with a knee injury, Rodgers will still have leading receiver Jordy Nelson and nightmare match-up Jermichael Finley to target. James Starks and Ryan Grant will split the work on the ground, giving the Bears D plenty to worry about.
Matthews on a Mission: Clay Matthews said this week that he remembers how the Bears didn't let up in the final game last season, even though Chicago had clinched the NFC North title, and that he and the Packers will let up against Chicago. Greattttt. Considering his six sacks, two forced fumbles and two interceptions, he will try his hardest to ruin Christmas for Bears fans.
Back with a vengeance: Green Bay's 13-game winning streak was snapped last Sunday in an unlikely loss to Kansas City. With homefield advantage and a franchise record for wins on the line, this game has plenty of meaning.
Playoffs?!?!? Believe it or not, the Bears actually are still alive for postseason play. From the Bears PR team: The Bears are currently two games behind the Atlanta Falcons and Detroit Lions (both 9-7) for the two Wild Card spots in the NFC Playoff race. The Bears must win both of their remaining games and have either the Falcons or Lions lose both of their games and the Seattle Seahawks (7-7) lose at least one game, to make the playoffs. If they lose to Green Bay, they're out, and the Packers will have home-field throughout the playoffs.
History lesson: Most Bears fans don't need to be reminded of the long and storied history between the Bears and Packers, but in case you're new, welcome! Also, Chicago vs. Green Bay is the oldest and longest-running in the NFL. Sunday will be their 184th meeting, with the Bears holding a 92-85-6 edge. Sunday will also mark the fourth time in the calendar year that the two teams play. Green Bay won the three previous, including the NFC Championship game.
Injury report: This late in the season, injuries are mounting for both teams. In addition to Cutler, Forte, Johnny Knox and Chris Conte, Lance Briggs and Devin Hester have been limited in practice this week, but Hester and Briggs are expected to play. Henry Melton is also expected to return. On the Packers side, Jennings, the heart of their receiving corps, is out.