Early Bird Breakdown Week 17: Packers @ Bears
Early Bird Breakdown Week 17: Packers @ Bears
Here it is- the final regular season breakdown for the final regular season game. Starting off with last week’s recap:
The Good: Eddie Lacy & James Starks
The Packers’ run game continues to churn out big games. Last week Lacy before being hobbled by an ankle injury carried the ball 15 times for 84 yards (5.6 yards-per-carry) and a pair of scores. James Starks came in and picked up right where Lacy left off, getting 10 carries himself for 47 yards. As a whole, the team ran for 151 yards on 30 carries and had three touchdowns. This was very important because Flynn was not having a very good afternoon throwing it.
The Bad: The Penalties
Green Bay had plenty of opportunities to win and played the game very well. They held Roethlisberger, who on the season has thrown for over 4000 yards, to 167 yards. Le’Veon Bell had his best game of the season but for how the Packers have been struggling on defense, it was not the reason they lost. Even the offensive line played decently well, giving up only three sacks (though the Steelers were third-to-worst in sacking the quarterback heading in). What killed them was giving up 90 yards over 9 penalties to Pittsburgh, but the most egregious of them was on Nick Perry.
The Ugly: Nick Perry’s encroachment
I knew when I saw the play this was going to be the ugly. With 1:35 left in the game Pittsburgh lined up for the go-ahead field goal. Green Bay would have over 1:25 and a time out after the return to tie the game for over time or score a touchdown to win. But instead of a field goal attempt Nick Perry jumped the snap by a mile and Pittsburgh got an automatic first down. Green Bay ultimately had to use their last time out to preserve clock while Pittsburgh still controlled the ball and then Pittsburgh scored a touchdown. Green Bay was able to drive down field but without the timeout Green Bay was six yards short of the end zone. The timeout and the four points were the difference in the game.
How I did:
“Final score 27-20 Green Bay over Pittsburgh”- The game came down to the wire. Both teams had mental mistakes and penalties. At the end of the day the Packers just simply did not get it done resulting in a final score 38-31 Pittsburgh.
Last week Chicago went into Philadelphia with a chance to win the division outright, where as Philadelphia knew that the game did not matter because of an earlier Dallas loss (causing a winner-take-all matchup this weekend). Chicago clearly had the higher need…and turned in a laugher losing by 43 points. The league’s worst run defense was on display as Philadelphia ran for a ridiculous 289 yards.
Packers’ Offense vs. Bears’ Defense:
Fun stat of the article: going into this weeks game Chicago has the 6th worst yards-per-carry against in NFL history, just barely behind the 1961 Vikings and the 1958 49ers. They are giving up 5.396 yards per carry, which means teams are getting a first down every two runs. Green Bay is 7th in rushing yards and tied for 5th on yards-per-carry (4.6). With Lacy expected to play I would have thought the offense would run all over Chicago but with Rodgers at the helm I can’t imagine Chicago doing much today to stop Green Bay. Chicago is 14th against the pass but like with Philadelphia last week, who only threw for 225 yards, it is because opponents can run so easily that they do not bother to throw. Chicago is 29th in total defense (389.3 yards-per-game) and 30th (29.7 points-per-game) in scoring defense. Expect Green Bay to score, though they may control the clock so long I could see the long drives giving fewer opportunities for both teams. Packers fans will be excited to see the potential return of Randall Cobb (who is questionable for kickoff) giving Rodgers his favorite target back in time for his own return. Aaron Rodgers is 8-2 in games he has finished against Chicago and a 107.7 QB rating.
Packers’ Defense vs. Bears’ Offense:
Green Bay fans cannot taunt Chicago fans about defense really, considering the Packers are 24th in scoring defense (26.7 points-per-game) and 26th in total defense (374.1 yards per game). Chicago has the best one-two punch at receiver in the NFL with Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery. With Martellus Bennett at tight end and Matt Forte at running back, the Bears are loaded at the skill positions. Green Bay will be without Clay Matthews who re-broke his thumb last week sacking Ben Roethlisberger. This would be more daunting if Josh McCown was running things, with McCown at the helm Chicago’s offense was rolling. Since head coach Mark Trestman made the switch back to Cutler, there have been more turnovers and mental missteps. Historically, Cutler has not played well against Green Bay at all. 1-8 with a 59.9 rating in those games.
The Weather Factor:
It will be a cold and windy day in Chicago today. A 30% chance of snow mixed in on the current report, but it will be very cold and windy. Expect a game built around the running game for both teams.
The Packers will need to keep Rodgers clean to prevent a re-injury as well as keep Rodgers from becoming tentative. Fortunately, Chicago has the fewest sacks in the NFL with only 28 for the season. Both teams have the capability to score in droves, but where Rodgers historically has been great against the Bears, Cutler has not. All the pressure is on Cutler in this game. Green Bay is on an emotional high with Rodgers back and Cutler has his legacy and contract on the line in this game. Lacy and Starks both could hit 100 yards on the ground and control the clock, giving fewer opportunities for Cutler to score. With Rodgers back I believe Green Bay will win this game 38-27.
Everyone- Lacy, Jordy, Cobb, Marshall, Jeffery, and Forte all easily can get 10+ points. Bennett should get 8-12 points at tight end. Rodgers will be looking to show Chicago up for sidelining him. Forte is the safest play among Bears due to potential hiccups from Cutler and Lacy is for the Packers due to the historically poor nature of the Bears defense against the run.
Defenses: Not that they were on your team anyway.