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Week 15 Game Preview: Bears vs. Packers

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Can the Bears end their home losing streak to the Packers?

NFL: Atlanta Falcons at Green Bay Packers Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

The Chicago Bears have lost nine straight home games to the Packers, including the playoffs, since 2010.

Go back even further and they have won just two of their last 12 meetings at Soldier Field against the Packers in the last ten years.

That’s brutal, however, the last time the Bears made the playoffs, back in 2010, was when they last defeated their no. 1 rival.

Once again the Bears can beat the Packers, clinch the division and eliminate Green Bay from the playoffs with a win.

Seems easy, but games never are against Green Bay and Aaron Rodgers.

Green Bay Packers

SB Nation site: Acme Packing Company

Game day/time/TV: Sunday, noon CT, FOX

Record: 5-7-1

Last week: 34-20 win over the Falcons at Lambeau

Bears all-time record against: 94-97-6

Historical match ups: Monday, Sept. 27, 2010. Soldier Field, Chicago, Ill.

The Bears host the Packers on Monday Night Football. The starting line up for the Bears includes Julius Peppers, Brian Urlacher, Charles Tillman and Anthony Adams on defense and Olin Kreutz, Earl Bennett, Devin Hester and Johnny Knox on offense.

Jay Cutler threw a touchdown to Greg Olsen, while Aaron Rodgers threw one to Greg Jennings. Rodgers rushed for another while Hester returned a punt for Chicago’s second touchdown.

Two Robbie Gould field goals, including a 19-yarder as time expired was the difference as the Bears won 20-17.

The Bears have lost every game at Soldier Field to the Packers since.

Last meeting: A gut-wrenching 24-23 loss in week one. The Packers, led by a one-legged Rodgers following his earlier exit from a knee injury to lead Green Bay to a 21-3 run and ultimately a victory.

Offense: Aaron Rodgers.

I could leave it at that and it would suffice, right? He’s their best weapon and their most effective offensive threat and he’s been the Bears slayer for the last decade plus.

The Packers rank 11th in offense and 15th in points.

Their passing attack is 10th and rushing is 19th.

Rodgers (62% cmp./3,700 yds./23 TD/1 INT) is having another great season in the midst of all of the Packers organizational shake ups. Last week he set an NFL record for most passes without an interception, one that he brings into this game.

Catching his passes are Davante Adams (92 rec./1,196 yds./12 TD), TE Jimmy Graham (46/549/2), Randall Cobb (34/326/2) and Marquez Valdes-Scantling (29/451/2).

Their rushing attack is led by Aaron Jones (129 att./720 yds./8 TD) and Jamaal Williams (86/310/1). Jones has brought a legitimate rushing threat back to the Packers after years of subpar and so-so RBs. He has ability as a receiver too, adding 26 catches, 206 yards and a TD.

Defense: The Packers defense comes into the game ranked 16th in yards allowed and 17th in points allowed. Mike Pettine’s unit is eighth in passing yards allowed, but 24th against the rush.

The Packers are tied with the Bears for fifth in the league with 40 sacks, although they are 24th with just 14 takeaways.

They’re led by LB Kyler Fackrell (8 sacks/10 TFL/10 QB hits), NT Kenny Clark (6 sacks/9 QB hits/1 FF) and LB Blake Martinez (4 sacks/118 TKL/9 TFL/5 QB hits/2 PD) up front.

In the secondary are CBs Jaire Alexander (11 PD/1 INT/2 FR) and Josh Jackson (8 PD) and Bashaud Breeland (2 INT/3 PD/1 FR).

Tramon Williams is also still an effective playmaker, even at age 35. He has 47 TKL, one FR and one PD.

Interestingly, their leader in interceptions hasn’t played for them in over a month, Ha-Ha Clinton-Dix (traded to Washington).

Injury report: The Packers listed nine players on their Wednesday injury report.

Full participation: QB Aaron Rodgers (knee), WR Equanimeous St. Brown (elbow)

Limited: WR Randall Cobb (knee), LB Clay Matthews (ankle), G Lane Taylor (foot)

Did not participate: CB Brashaud Breeland (groin/not injury related), T Bryan Bulaga (knee), DL Kenny Clark (elbow), TE Jimmy Graham (knee/thumb)

Key match ups: A lot is going to come down to lessons from that week one game. How can Vic Fangio change his calls if the Packers use that quick passing game to neutralize their pass rush?

It’s going to be about Kyle Fuller and Prince Amukamara locking down Davante Adams and Randall Cobb.

However, one of the big keys will be how Sherrick McManis fares in his first start in place of Bryce Callahan, lining up against Green Bay’s no. 3 in either St. Brown or Valdes-Scantling.

Khalil Mack going against Bulaga (if he plays) is obviously another match up to watch. Green Bay’s OL is beat up and the pass rush could have its way, but we also saw what happened in week one.

On offense it will come down to Mitch Trubisky making good decisions and avoiding turnovers.

The Packers have been starting two rookie corners in Alexander and Jackson, so there should be shots to be taken, but the Packers pass rush has been very good at getting pressure.

If the Bears can pick up their run game where it left off last Sunday, they can control the pace of the game and keep Rodgers off the field.

What to watch for: Possible playoff clinching win, exorcising demons over the team’s biggest rival and nemesis, avenging that horrible week one loss.

Other than that, I guess there isn’t much to watch for...

Key stats: The Packers have not won a road game this season.

Green Bay has the third fewest turnovers in the league

Opponents have a 95.9 rating against the Packers, throwing 22 TDs to 7 INTs

Rodgers has thrown three touchdown passes only twice this year, against the Bears in week one and in week five against the Lions

No team has more interceptions against Rodgers than the Bears, who have nine. However, he also has the most touchdown passes against the Bears with 45

The last time Rodgers started and lost against the Bears was Thanksgiving 2015

Pick: It’s never an easy game against the Packers. As much as I want to believe the Bears will just crush the Packers and cruise to an easy win and division title, something tells me that Rodgers is going to find a way to keep it close or at least make us fans sweat down the stretch.

That said, I’m picking Bears 23, Packers 17. To see my analysis of the betting lines click here to see my article on Sports Bet Collective. I’m 8-4 picking Bears games this year.