The Bears are at that point where the only thing they can do as far as the postseason goes is to play the role of spoiler.
They can be one of those teams that upsets an opponent that is trying to position itself for a playoff berth or for better seeding in the postseason.
And this week they welcome in a team that fans love to see get spoiled out of the postseason. The Green Bay Packers.
The Packers come into Soldier Field riding a three game win-streak, which has followed an awful four-game losing streak that had national media pundits wondering if big changes were going to come to Green Bay.
Now they’re looking at possible Wild Card round scenarios for the Green and Gold.
Hopefully the Bears can give the Cheeseheads’ playoff hopes a swift kick in the curds Sunday.
Green Bay Packers
SB Nation site: Acme Packing Company
Record: 7-6, second in the NFC North
Last week: 38-10 shellacking of the Seattle Seahawks
Bears all-time record against: 93-92-6
Historical match ups: It’s 194th meeting (including postseason) between the two teams; there are plenty of them. Remember last Thanksgiving when the Bears spoiled Favre night? That was fun.
Last meeting: 26-10 win back in Week 7, right before their four game skid. That was the game in which the Bears lost Brian Hoyer and Matt Barkley was then thrust into the game.
Key injuries: Aaron Rodgers did not practice Wednesday to rest his calf injury. Also missing practice were Julius Peppers (Not injury related), LB Nick Perry (hand) and RB James Stacks (concussion). Limited were WR Randall Cobb (ankle), G T.J. Lang (foot), OL J.C. Tretter (knee) and DB Demarious Randall (groin).
Offense: The Packers come to Chicago with the seventh best scoring offense in the league, averaging 25.6 points and 357.9 yards per game.
The Packers have the 10th best ariel attack with 259 pass yards per game but the 22nd ranked run game with only 98 yards per game.
Rodgers is really starting to get clicking again with receivers Jordy Nelson (75 rec./913 yds./12 TDs), Devante Adams (63/897/9) and Randall Cobb (60/610/4). After that trio, the receiving numbers drop off to Ty Montgomery (35/313/0). The team’s fourth-leading receiver in TD catches is James Starks.
As for the ground attack, there isn’t much there. The team’s leading rusher remains Eddy Lacy, who hasn’t played since week six. Their active leading rusher is Rodgers himself, who also leads the team in rushing TDs with three. He is averaging a healthy 5.7 YPC and has 295 yards on the ground.
Montgomery is also lending his skills as a rusher to help the Packer cause. The WR has 44 rushes for 228 yards, a 5.2 YPC and two TDs. James Stacks (63/145/0) and Christine Michael (20/59/0) are back there as well with Aaron Ripkowski (25/89/2) playing the role of token white Packer FB.
Due to their lack of a running game the Packers have the fifth-most pass attempts (511 total, 502 for Rodgers) against the 27th most rushing attempts (305).
Defense: The Packers are 13th in defense, giving up 347.7 yards per game. They rank 19th against the pass (251 YPG) and ninth against the run (96 YPG).
The Packers are +1 in the turnover margin category, no doubt assisted by the flukey six turnover game against Seattle. They were -5 before last weekend, in case math isn’t your strong suit.
The Packers have the same number of sacks as the Bears (33), which is tied for the fifth most in the league. Nick Perry leads the Pack in sacks with eight, followed by former Bear and Panther Peppers with 6.5 and then long-time Packer Clay Matthews comes in with four.
True to a Dom Capers unit, the blitzes he utilizes show up in the different positions played by players with at least a partial sack: five players, including both safeties and a couple of DBs. Damarious Randall and HaHa Clinton-Dix lead the Packers secondary with three interceptions each.
Key match ups: The big one for the Bears defense is going to be the pass rush vs. Aaron Rodgers.
The Packers’ offense really goes through the passing attack and specifically their main three wide receivers. It would be imperative that the secondary hold Cobb, Nelson and Adams in check but it’s no secret that the secondary is a huge weak point for Chicago.
So it’s going to be about getting pressure on Rodgers, which is something the Bears managed to do pretty well in their first meeting. They registered nine QB hits but just two sacks. If Leonard Floyd can show up as big as he did back in October along with Akiem Hicks playing better along it would go a long way to helping the Bears.
The pass rush must contain Rodgers and not let him scramble and improvise outside the pocket, that is when he can be at his best.
On offense Matt Barkley has to continue taking care of the ball the way he has. The Packers’ secondary had a big week last week and the Bears should have their hands full enough with the talent on Green Bay that any turnover could sink them, especially early.
The offensive line will also have their hands full identifying blitzers and trying to keep Barkley clean.
What to watch for: For the Bears to pull off the upset and really push the Packers’ playoff hopes back they need to do what has worked for them in the past: get after the quarterback and keep feeding the ball to Jordan Howard.
The key for the Bears against an offense that can strike as quickly as Green Bay is to control the ball and the clock and keep Rodgers on the sideline.
Key stats: Aaron Rodgers hasn’t thrown an interception since week 10 against Tennessee.
Rodgers has been sacked just twice in their recent three-game winning streak. He was sacked 13 times during their four-game skid.
Alshon Jeffery’s catch percentage this year is 55.6, which is just slightly ahead of Deonte Thompson (55.0) and Josh Bellamy (53.1) and just behind Jordan Howard (55.8) and Marquess Wilson (56.3).