This is the week dreams die, right?
Aaron Rodgers, ripping our hearts out again, like he has so many times, every single time the door so much as peaks open for the Bears.
But the Bears have a chance and that’s as much as fans could ask for, given where this team was a month ago and where the Packers were.
The Packers are beatable and the Bears should match up well against them, see week one for evidence of that. Even if that game didn’t go Chicago’s way, they were in it all the way to the end.
The playoffs are still an incredible longshot, so it would be a nice consolation from this disappointing season to at least steal a game from the Packers and ensure that it won’t be a losing season for the beloved.
Green Bay Packers
SB Nation site: Acme Packing Company
Game day/time, TV: Sunday, noon CT, FOX
Record: 10-3, first in NFC North
Bears all-time record against: 95-98-6 (including postseason)
Historical meetings: This will be the 200th overall meeting between the two most storied franchises in the NFL and the 198th regular season meeting.
Let’s jump back to the last time the Bears won at Lambeau in December.
It was actually Christmas Day 2005. The Bears clinched the division and their first playoff trip since 2001 against the 3-12 Packers.
Rex Grossman threw for just 166 yards, one touchdown to Muhsin Muhammad and an interception while Thomas Jones carried the ball 25 times for 105 yards and a touchdown.
The defense intercepted Brett Favre four times: twice for Chris Harris and one each for Lance Briggs and Charles Tillman. Briggs’ returned his for a touchdown.
The Bears won 24-17, but it wasn’t that close. A late Antonio Chatman punt return and a Ryan Longwell field goal made it look closer but it was 24-7 after three quarters.
Last meeting: Opening night, Thursday night on the lakefront. The high expectations for the Bears and Mitch Trubisky came crashing to a halt as the Bears struggled offensively in a 10-3 loss.
Offense: The Packers enter the game with the 13th ranked offense in points but they rank 23rd in yards.
They have the 17th ranked rushing offense and 16th ranked passing offense.
Led by Aaron Rodgers (64.4 pct. cmp./3,260 yds./23 TD/2 INT), the Packers are getting it done through the air to Devante Adams (56 rec./685 yds./3 TD), RBs Aaron Jones (45/425/3) and Jamaal Williams (36/227/5), TE Jimmy Graham (32/382/3), Geronimo Allen (29/251/2), Allen Lazard (24/249/2) and Marquez Valdes-Scantling (23/427/2).
Basically, the Packers like to spread the ball around. There’s nine players with 10 or more catches and 10 players have caught at least one touchdown.
The Packers have also found a running game for the first time in a while. Jones has given them a solid rushing attack for the first time in years.
Jones (175 att./779 yds./12 TD) and Jamaal Williams (93/401/1). Rodgers (38/162/1) is still fleet of foot too.
Defense: The Packers defense ranks 13th in points allowed and 22nd in yards allowed.
They rank 21st in pass yards allowed and are 25th in rushing yards allowed.
Their offseason defensive acquisitions Za’Darius Smith (10 sk/12 TFL/29 QB hits) and Preston Smith (11.5 sk/10 TFL/22 QB hits/3 PD/1 FF/1 INT) have played up to their contracts so far.
Kenny Clark (3 sk/5 QB hits/1 FF) is another playmaker on their front seven. Reserve LB Kyler Fackrell (1 sk/10 QB hits) is skilled at getting after the QB even if the sacks aren’t there.
In the secondary, CB Kevin King (4 INT/13 PD/1 FF) and safeties Adrian Amos (2 INT/8 PD/71 tkl) and Darnell Savage (2 INT/4 PD/47 tkl) are the main playmakers. LB Blake Martinez (128 tkl/2 sk/1 FF/4 TFL) is also a good all around player for Green Bay.
Jaire Alexander (1 INT/14 PD/1 FF) has drawn some criticism from Packers fans. Alexander and King are among the league leaders in pass break ups but have just five combined interceptions.
As a team they have the third most interceptions in the league, as well as the sixth most turnovers.
Key match ups: The passing game really flows through Devante Adams. He’s the leading receiver by a wide margin, after him it’s the two running backs and the TE Graham before you get to their next receiver.
Kyle Fuller will likely see a lot of Adams, but Green Bay will also move him around and probably try to get him lined up on Kevin Tolliver, should Prince Amukamara not be able to go again.
Mitch Trubisky will have to continue his stellar play, while the number’s suggest that Green Bay may be average against the pass, they have the third-most interceptions and have the 11th best passer rating allowed (86.8), with 16 TD to 13 INT.
The Bears defense managed to sack Rodgers five times back in week one and that pressure was a huge factor in keeping them in the game. Khalil Mack and Leonard Floyd, who in particular has shown up against Green Bay, will need to have big games.
That said, shutting down Aaron Jones is also a key. He gives the Packers’ offense balance. So getting Akiem Hicks back will be big in shutting down running lanes and slowing down that running game.
Key stats: The Packers offense has been spotty: In 52 quarters this season, they’ve scored zero points and in 25 quarters they have scored three or less.
Their per quarter scoring decreases as games go on: they average 7.5 points in the first quarter, 5.7 in the second, 5.5 in the third and 4.7 in the fourth
The Packers are 1-2 when they lose the turnover battle this season
Green Bay is below average in third down offense (35.7 percent, 20th) and defense (39.3, 18th) but in the redzone both units hunker down and are among the best in offensive redzone scoring (68.2 percent, second) and redzone defense (50 percent, sixth)
Green Bay has beat just one more winning team than the Bears have (GB beat Minnesota, like Chicago, but also beat Kansas City)
Both teams have the same number of losses by more than one score (two)
Rodgers hasn’t thrown an interception since week six, a seven game streak, last year Chicago ended a nine game interception free streak for Rodgers
The Packers rank 27th in rushing touchdowns allowed (14) and yards per carry allowed (4.7)
The Bears have won just four games against Green Bay since 2010, the fewest in a decade since the 1960s.
What do the Bears need to do to win Sunday? Who is the most important Bear for Chicago to win?