The last week of regular season football is upon us and we’re blessed with the gift of a meaningful Packers-Bears rivalry game. Chicago rarely has something to play for this late in the season and when they do its typically been Green Bay playing spoiler for them.  In the last decade, it was the NFC Championship or the 2014 Week 17 NFC North winner takes all battle that ended with Randall Cobb finishing the Bears season with 38 seconds remaining. Aaron Rodgers has paid respect to this heralded rivalry over the years and the Bears have built an enormous wall of bulletin board material in efforts to take down the boogeyman.

Chicago is coming off a 3 game win streak granted against opponents that are a combined 11-34. They beat Houston, Minnesota and Jacksonville over that stretch while they got their offense back on track scoring 33+ in all those games giving a new life to Mitchell Trubisky. Packer fans would rejoice if the Bears kept him for a few more years as he’s 1-5 in career starts vs Green Bay. Earlier this season, the Week 12 matchup was a highlight of Trubisky’s career vs Green Bay as he gifted two interceptions and a lost fumble. He’ll look to bounce back and secure his team a shot in the playoffs although they can get in with an Arizona loss to a depleted Los Angeles Rams team.

Packers meanwhile are coming off a trouncing of a tough competitor in the Tennessee Titans. Green Bay can clinch home field advantage with a win and have an outside chance at the #1 seed with some help.  Cheeseheads were on top of the world after the snowy beat down of Tennessee which featured rookie RB AJ Dillon demolishing the opposition in a breakout performance.

The ultimate high was abruptly snuffed midweek when news broke that the league’s best left tackle David Bakhtiari tore his ACL in practice and would miss the rest of the season. Next man up is the best approach although may be hard to overlook the impact of the highest paid tackle in the NFL missing a potential Super Bowl run. LaFleur will have to figure out the combination on the offensive line and having the #1 seed would give the team an extra week of practice to sort the line depth out. In Bakhtiari’s absence earlier this season, Green Bay was able to go 2-1 over that stretch. Rick Wagner, Elgton Jenkins, Billy Turner or whoever gets shifted around will have to be on their A game to slow down a quality Bears defense.

Highs

Aaron Rodgers/Davante Adams

Chicago will be missing some top corners to injury which gives Rodgers an advantage to take care of business despite Chicago being 5th best in points allowed to QBs. Rodgers threw for 211 yards and 4 TDs in the Week 12 tilt that was 41-10 until two garbage time TDs by Chicago resulted in a 41-25 final score. Rodgers spread the love around in that game gifting TDs to Davante, Bobby TDs, Marcedes Lewis and Allen Lazard. I don’t expect that to change in this game except he may get Davante more involved than the first matchup which granted Davante 6 catches for 61 yards and the score.

Chicago will have to decide to try and contain the Packers top scoring offense by limiting Aaron Rodgers or attempting to slow down the running game. Neither are likely to be held down for long and figure to see Rodgers shine in this monumental matchup. Chicago’s defense ranks top 10 in most statistical categories against WR so will be very hard to see giant success out of that position.

Rodgers throws for 225 yards and 3 TDs

Adams hauls in 8 Catches for 75 yards 1 TD

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Running Backs

Well hello to the rookie bulldozer in AJ Dillon, he scampered for 124 yards and 2 TDs over Tennessee in relief of Aaron Jones making folks question whether or not Jones will get a new deal in Green Bay. One week may be an overreaction but expect LaFleur to feature both backs in a highly contested game. The damage will have to be done through ground and pound as Chicago ranks middle of the pack in terms of yards and TDs allowed to RBs. An astonishing stat for Week 17 is that the Chicago Bears have yet to allow a receiving touchdown to any RB this season. Can that change this week? May not be necessary. Green Bay’s two headed monster can gash the defense with runs and score in a multitude of ways.

Aaron Jones 15 Carries 55 Yards 1 TD 3 Catches for 20 yards

AJ Dillon 10 Carries 65 Yards and 1 TD

Bobby Tonyan

Chicago’s stellar defense is monstrous towards WRs, average towards RBs and quite poor vs the TE position. They’re the 5th worst in terms of points allowed to TEs while allowing just under 900 yards over the season. The Bears have surrendered the 2nd most TDs to TEs as well and I’m pretty sure a guy named Bobby Touchdowns is licking his chops at this opportunity. Luckily with the strong run game to draw coverage up and Davante Adams garnishing the interest of the secondary, Rodgers will have a plethora of looks to involve his young TE.

Bobby catches 5 passes for 65 yards and 2 TDs

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Lows

MVS

He has been nonexistent since the return of Allen Lazard although when he does strike its vicious and nobody can keep up with his straight line speed.

Outlook

Green Bay has everything to play for and no reason to take any rest in this game. Consider this a dry run for the playoffs as the Packers work out their new offensive line combinations. Chicago is desperate to try and beat a Packers team that has plagued their organization for years. This is Chicago’s Super Bowl, a week 17 matchup to get in the playoffs meanwhile this is just a pit stop for a Packers team with lofty aspirations. Green Bay starts slow but ultimately puts the Bears down. Green Bay ends the regular season on a high note.

Packers win 38-27

Happy New Year and GO PACK GO!

Brandon