In the NFL’s oldest rivalry, one might be surprised at what they find when they actually look at the ledger of significant head to head games. So many names. So many legends. So many championships. But often little incentive for both sides when the time to put up or shut up arrives.
For as much as history and tradition as there is between the Bears and Packers, it’s been a long time since these two teams played a late-season game against each other where both had something to gain from a win. Aside from moments like the 2011 NFC Championship Game, the Bears and Packers have simply not been relevant enough, simultaneously, to routinely have anything meaningful on the line in a December, or even January game. (Draft order and positioning doesn’t count. We’re talking playoff implications.)
This Sunday, that changes. While the Bears can technically clinch a playoff spot with an Arizona defeat, it’s win and you’re in for Matt Nagy’s bunch. Meanwhile, after another stellar season at the helm for Matt LaFleur’s crew, Green Bay can clinch the NFC’s No. 1 seed with a win of their own. More importantly, they can clinch the only playoff bye under the tournament’s new format.
All of the makings of a de facto playoff game without the special trimmings of January. This is relatively unprecedented territory for pro football’s two greatest mainstays. Oh what fun the New Year shall bring.
Windy City Gridiron’s staff picks Bears-Packers and every other NFL game this weekend.
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