After a week of turmoil, finger pointing, and general discontent around the team, the Chicago Bears will reconvene on Monday as they prepare for a Sunday night showdown with the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field.
The first meeting between the teams this season came at Soldier Field, where the Packers used an impressive second half barrage to knock off the Bears by a score of 38-17. The game saw Jay Cutler in all his glory, driving his team down the field with authority and going out with a whimper in the second half as he threw the ball to all the players in the wrong colored jerseys.
Fortunately for the Bears, there are still some reasons for hope as they prepare to head to Green Bay. For starters, the Packers’ rushing offense still isn’t where it needs to be, as Eddie Lacy and company are averaging just 97.5 yards per game on the ground, good for 24th in the league. That will help ease the pain the Bears are experiencing on their defensive line, with Lamarr Houston out for the season after his ill-advised sack celebration against the New England Patriots in Week 8.
The Packers’ run defense is actually worse than their rushing offense, allowing 153.5 yards per game. That is the worst total in the NFL, and judging by the way Matt Forte and Ka’Deem Carey carved up the Packers in the teams’ first meeting this season (the duo combined for 194 yards as the Bears posted nearly 500 yards of total offense behind a solid running attack), a change of strategy on the part of Marc Trestman could pay dividends as the Bears try to figure out the secret formula for knocking off Green Bay.
That, unfortunately, is where we start to run into problems for the Bears. Over the past few weeks, they’ve shown little to no ability to adjust to what a defense is giving them, as they abandoned the run far too early against both the Miami Dolphins and Patriots. That strategy will absolutely not work against the Packers, who are in the top-10 in the league in passing yards against this season.
Speaking of passing, quarterback Aaron Rodgers is pretty good at football. That’s hardly breaking news, but in case anyone had forgotten as they discussed Tom Brady’s resurrection and Peyton Manning’s continued dominance, Rodgers has helpfully reminded everyone of his greatness. Since carving up the Bears for 302 yards and four touchdowns in Week 4, Rodgers has thrown 10 more touchdowns and just two interceptions as the Packers have racked up wins in three of their last four games.
Ultimately for the Bears, the question they will need to answer is whether or not they can stop Rodgers. Their secondary has been hurting lately with Kyle Fuller’s injury woes and the general ineffectiveness of the Bears’ linebackers and safeties, and going up against a precision passer like Rodgers with a full arsenal of weapons at his disposal is hardly an appealing task.
This game is going to determine if the Bears are a legitimate playoff contender, or if they are simply fighting for an 8-8 finish and for the jobs of their coordinators and head coach. Some pundits may be accused of hyperbole this week, but don’t let anyone fool you: this game is a must win for the Bears if they have any shot of climbing back into playoff relevance, and a loss could very well end their season.