The narrative has been repeated throughout the entire week. Green Bay Packers and Chicago Bears in a week 17 matchup with the winner clinching the NFC North division title and spot in the playoffs.
Decision day is here.
By the end of the day, the Bears will either be celebrating a playoff berth or clearing out their lockers and preparing for the off-season.
The Bears defeated the Packers earlier this season but in that game, Rodgers suffered a broken collarbone on the first series.
After missing seven games because of that collarbone injury, Rodgers is returning today to face the Bears.
There has been some debate as to how healthy Rodgers is. Throughout the process of Rodgers’ rehabilitation, the Packers have been very cautious and made each decision with their long-term interest in mind. Last week when the Packers needed a win over the Pittsburgh Steelers, a report surfaced suggesting that Rodgers was no where close to being ready to return for that game. Meaning there is not much that can change in a week’s time. Nevertheless, Rodgers was announced the starting quarterback on Thursday.
Rodgers returning has changed the dynamic of the game between the Bears and Packers. When Packers backup quarterback Matt Flynn was anticipated to be the starting quarterback, many Bears fans were optimistic about their team’s chances. With Rodgers now starting, the odds have swung in the favor of the Packers.
If the Bears are going to upset the Packers, it is going to be up to the defense to do something they have yet to do this season. Stop the run. Packers running back Eddie Lacy is expected to play and he could be the difference maker in the game. The Packers have the 7th ranked rushing offense in the NFL this season with the average of 131.7 rushing yards per game. The Bears defense is the worst ranked defense against the run with opposing teams averaging 161.5 rushing yards per game against the team this season.
But beyond the Bears defense against a returning Rodgers and the Packers’ rushing attack, the pressure can not get any higher for Bears quarterback Jay Cutler. Cutler’s struggles against the Packers defense are known to everyone. But the fact of the matter is that this is not the same Packers defense that Cutler has faced previously in his career. The Packers defense is vulnerable. The Packers defense is ranked 21st in the league against the pass with opposing teams averaging nearly 249 passing yards per game while also allowing 125 rushing yards per game. Of course, the Bears offense was facing a similar situation last week against the Philadelphia Eagles and Cutler wet the bed.
But Cutler’s recent struggles will all be forgotten if the quarterback leads the Bears to victory on Sunday. Not only would a win secure the Bears playoff spot but it also would secure Cutler’s spot with the Bears for the long-term.
The Bears come up short as they lose 24-17 to the Packers and the off-season of questioning whether or not Cutler should return begins.
Start Time: 4:25 p.m.
Tickets: Chicago Bears tickets
Live Stream: NFL Game Rewind
Television Information: Fox Chicago
Radio Information: WBBM 780 AM