Aaron Rodgers Returns In A Winner Take All Matchup
With the question of “will he” or “won’t he” finally answered, we can now focus on the matchup between the Green Bay Packers and the Chicago Bears. The winner of this game will win the NFC North division and host a first round playoff game.
The Vegas line before the announcement Rodgers would play had the Bears favored by 3.5 points. The line after the announcement changed to favor the Packers by 2.5 points.
Clearly having arguably the NFL’s best quarterback back under center is a game changer.
While having Rodgers back is a big positive for the Packers, there are two other phases of the game that will play a large part.
The Packers defense is currently ranked 26th, while the Bears offense is ranked 8th. The Bears have elite talent on offense and will pose a major challenge to a Packers defense that has struggled.
Bears wide receivers Alshon Jeffery and Brandon Marshall come into the game with 2560 receiving yards, and 18 TD’s between them.
Running back Matt Forte has 1229 yards, and 9 all-purpose TD’s.
The story in Chicago however is at the quarterback position where Jay Cutler has been re-inserted as the starter after missing four weeks with a groin injury. Before Cutler returned, backup Josh McCown was very productive averaging 352 yards per game, and a 9/1 TD to interception ratio over that stretch.
Since Cutler has returned he’s struggled, averaging 243 yards, and a 4/3 TD to interception ratio.
In the Bears last game in Philadelphia, Cutler only completed 57% of his passes. Bears coach Marc Trestman said he is committed to Cutler and he will continue to start.
The Bears have also had their problems on defense. In Philadelphia, with a chance to clinch the division title, the Bears defense gave up an eye popping 519 yards and were beaten 54-11.
The Bears rank dead last in the NFL in rush defense, giving up 161.5 yards per game. The Packers rush offense is ranked 4th averaging 131.7 yards per game. Obviously the Packers will need to attack with Eddie Lacy, if cleared to play (ankle), and James Starks.
The Packers have had their problems stopping the run as well. They rank 26th overall allowing an average of 125.3 yards per game.
The Packers defensive line absolutely needs to be more productive. In the Packers last game against the Steelers, the defensive line didn’t register one single tackle.
The Packers are extremely thin at outside linebacker with Clay Matthews ruled out with a broken thumb. Linebacker Mike Neal is also banged up, but should play. Between him and Andy Mulumba, they will have to step up and try to fill the void of Matthews’ loss.
For the Packers offense, Randall Cobb will be activated and make his return after missing 10 games with a leg injury. Cobb may be limited, but has the ability to roll some coverage away from wide receivers Jordy Nelson and James Jones.
This will be a fantastic, high energy game with the winner moving to the playoffs, and the loser starting draft prep.
A lot of points will be scored in this game, and the team that takes care of the ball the best will win.
Go Pack Go!