The Chicago Bears don’t need any more motivation with their season already on the line but they’ll get it. They will take on the Green Bay Packers for the 200th time, the oldest rivalry in football. A win doesn’t keep the Bears alive for the playoffs on its own, but a loss will all but eliminate them.
Bears Season on the Line in Week 15
The Bears will try to beat Green Bay for just the fifth time in the past decade as the Packers have taken the all-time lead in the series at 98-95-6. Chicago dropped the opener this year, just as last year, to the Packers. That game was in Chicago and set forth what has been a rough season for the team and fans. This time it is in Green Bay where the Bears haven’t won since 2015.
Green Bay suffered through an injury-riddled 2018 while Chicago thrived in Matt Nagy’s first season at the helm. Now it is Matt LaFleur guiding the Packers to the division crown as a rookie head coach. Indeed, it is a game that has more “full circle” moments than even the NFL could have ever dreamed of when making the schedule.
Tired or Wired
The Bears have played a soft group of opponents during their current three-game streak. But they have done a lot of things during those games that will travel and if could help them in getting a much-needed victory in the most hostile of environments. They need to keep David Montgomery involved and rediscover Tarik Cohen who hasn’t been the weapon he should be.
Montgomery has seen his usage steady and has run better for it, averaging over four yards per carry in the last two contests. The Packers are the 25th ranked run defense in the NFL and just gave up 121 on the ground to the Washington Redskins at over four yards per tote. The Bears aren’t as good on the ground as Washington but they aren’t the only ones to gash Green Bay.
The Packers have allowed teams to go over 100 rushing yards in nine of their 13 games this season. Unfortunately for the Bears, they have only gone over the century mark on the ground three times all year. Pounding the rock still allows them to run play action which has been effective for them as they have implemented it more.
Chicago surprisingly boasts the eighth-best Pass Block Win Rate. They’ll be tested; the Packers are 11th in Pass Rush Win Rate. Led by Za’Darius Smith (10th in Pass Rush Win Rate), the Packers have only had one or fewer sacks in four games this season. The Bears have allowed multiple sacks in all but three games and allowed five in Week 1.
The Packers 21st-ranked pass defense can be had if Mitchell Trubisky does get protection. Trubisky must continue his post-interception play from the Cowboys game; using his legs as effectively as his arm, if not more. This is especially true in the red zone where the Packers defense is sixth in scoring percentage at 50 percent. The Bears are allowing 55.8 percent.
The Bears have their work cut out for them trying to stop Aaron Rodgers and friends. They bent more than was comfortable against the Detroit Lions quarterbacked by Jeff Driskel and later David Blough. And let Todd Gurley do something similar to what Josh Jacobs did to them in Week 11. But they mostly held up against the top-ranked passing attack of the Dallas Cowboys.
Meanwhile, the Packers are 13th in scoring on the season but 23rd over the last three weeks at 19 points per game. The dip is from the loss to the San Francisco 49ers when Green Bay limped to eight points. They average 25 points per game in the remaining three of their last four games. The Bears will need to jump out to an early lead similar to last week.
Chicago is fourth in scoring defense on the year and hopes to get Akiem Hicks back from injury. His return would boost a defense that was already down Danny Trevathan before losing Roquan Smith to injury and will likely be without Prince Amukamara this week. The injury bug hit with a vengeance this year after the Bears made it through 2018 among the NFL’s healthiest.
Rodgers has tortured the Bears for years. This year his line has the best Pass Block Win Rate in the NFL. Khalil Mack needs to keep up his recent level of activity and stands to see the most immediate benefit from a return to action by Hicks. Leonard Floyd does have 7.5 of his 18.5 career sacks against the Packers including two in the opener this year.
Kyle Fuller is another player who, like Floyd, is especially noticeable when the Bears play the Packers. The feisty cornerback has gotten his hands on potential game-winning interceptions in the Bears last two losses to Green Bay. He is having a down season overall, allowing over 70 percent completion and five touchdowns in coverage this year. He needs to come up big.
Bears Season on the Line
The Bears struggled to find a rhythm for most of the season. They had a three-game win-streak turn into a four-game skid just before the run they’re on now. Dropping those games (namely getting trucked in London by the Oakland Raiders and kicks costing them against the Los Angeles Chargers) puts the Bears in the most impossible of binds.
A win merely keeps the possibility of playoffs alive. If the Los Angeles Rams and Minnesota Vikings don’t lose two games apiece the Bears are out regardless. But all they can worry about is getting a win on Sunday. If they ultimately fall short of the postseason, beating the Packers is about as good a consolation prize as there is in this bizarre season.
Prediction: The Bears have thrived against suspect competition the last few weeks while Green Bay has played down. Still, the history of this rivalry makes it hard to pick against Rodgers at home. Bears 17 Packers 24
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