The Green Bay Packers and Chicago Bears meet again on Sunday and both teams are headed in different, yet familiar, directions. The Packers (7-6) have won their last three games and are in hot pursuit of the Detroit Lions for the NFC North division crown. The Bears (3-10) have lost four of their last six games after losing to the Packers on Oct. 20 and they have been eliminated from the playoffs.
The Packers come into Soldier Field as the apparent favorites with Aaron Rodgers, who has made life very frustrating for Bears fans as he has won 13 of the 17 meetings against them. Here is how the Packers can make it 14:
Sunday’s forecast calls for a high of 6 degrees. Yes, that is a high of only 6 degrees. With winds up to 25 mph creating wind chills near 20 below zero.
But if you need more evidence the conditions Sunday are going to be extraordinary, consider The Weather Channel has dispatched meteorologist Jim Cantore, the heaviest bad-weather hitter on their broadcast roster, to Chicago this weekend.
These two division rivals have a history of playing some frigid games against each other. At Soldier Field on December 22, 2008, the temperature at kickoff was 2 degrees, the coldest home game in Bears’ history in terms of Fahrenheit. This game could break that record.
If measuring by wind chill, the lowest at Soldier Field was -15 on December 18, 1983, also coming against the Packers; the high temperature that day was 3 degrees.
This is classic NFC North type weather. And perfect for the oldest rivalry in football.
Windy City Runners
It’s going to be a cold one. No doubt about it. Conditions will favor the run more than the pass. Luckily, the Packers have started to assemble what appears to be a resemblance of a run game. A task that has hindered the team all season.
The Packers aren’t the best running team in the NFL statistically as they are ranked 22nd in the NFL in rushing offense, recording 98.6 yards per game. However, the Bears come into the game 19th in the NFL in rush defense, allowing 107.1 yards per game.
Entering Friday, the Packers have a laundry list of concerns with their running backs heading into Sunday:
– Christine Michael did not practice on Thursday because he has an illness.
– Ty Montgomery practiced on a limited basis on Thursday after fully participating on Wednesday because of a shoulder injury.
– James Starks was involved in a car accident and his status for Sunday is questionable after suffering a concussion.
– Aaron Ripkowski (Fullback) has a back injury and was limited in practice on Thursday.
So, if things go bad, the Packers could be without all three running backs and their starting fullback. Odds are that’s not going to happen but it sure presents a problem if all four are out and our leading back is a quarter with 2 bad legs.
The offensive line overall has played well especially over the last three games, allowing two sacks in that span and just one last week to the Seahawks’ formidable defense. The return of veteran right guard T.J. Lang against the Seattle Seahawks from a three-game absence because of a foot injury was an added boost. Protecting Rodgers is especially vital now that the quarterback is nursing injuries to his left hamstring and right calf.
The movement of rookie Jason Spriggs, Corey Linsley, and J.C. Tretter has proven to be serviceable, if not dominant. The Packers have only allowed 26 sacks which ranks in the bottom half of the league. They will have their hands full, again, against a tough Bears front seven.
One of the things the Bears do well is get after the quarterback. This year, the Bears have recorded 33 sacks which ties them with the Packers and the Buffalo Bills for the fifth most in the NFL.
The Bears have three players with at least seven sacks this year. Linebacker Willie Young leads the team with 7.5 sacks while defensive lineman Akiem Hicks and rookie linebacker Leonard Floyd each have seven. All three players will be ready to go on Sunday so the Packers offensive line will have to be on their game.
Packers have a chance to draw even in the all-time series (Bears lead 94-93-6) because they have dominated since 1992 behind Brett Favre and Aaron Rodgers (36-14). The Bears have shown fight with Matt Barkley at quarterback, but Rodgers and the Packers, playing better football after a rough midseason stretch, get the nod. The Pack is Back and it’s time to put the Bear Down in Chitown.
Packers – 27
Bears – 10