Maggie's Pre-Game Six Pack - 2020 Week 17

Records for Adams, the Bears offense, and more in this week's six pack. 

Happy New Year! What a season we’ve been privileged to witness from the Packers in 2020, but the fun doesn’t stop there. The regular season wraps up on Sunday with one overarching takeaway heading into the playoffs: Beat the Bears and win the No. 1 seed in the NFC. Let’s get started with six things to keep an eye on heading into Week 17:

1. He’s the MVP

The Chiefs are resting Patrick Mahomes in Week 17 against the Chargers, so his stats are finalized (38 TD, 6 INT, 66.3% completion percentage). While it feels like after Sunday Night Football Aaron Rodgers had kind of put the MVP contest on ice (see what I did there), he’ll still have one more week to try to eclipse some career bests. 

In 2011, when Rodgers won his first MVP, he threw 45 touchdowns and only six interceptions, and he did it in 15 games. With one final game at his disposal, Rodgers is poised to potentially set new personal records. So far in 2020, he’s thrown 44 touchdowns and only five interceptions. He’s also got a completion percentage of 70.3%, which is the highest of his career as a starter. 

While this doesn’t play into the MVP race in the slightest, I do think it’s an interesting note. In 2011, Rodgers was sacked 36 times. In 2020, he’s only been sacked 19 times. His career low playing a full 16-game season was during his second MVP campaign in 2014, where he had 28 sacks. 

2. Receiving of Praise 

It’s been a career year for Davante Adams, too. He’s already set a new career high with 17 touchdowns, and he needs only 59 yards on Sunday to set a new receiving yards record. He’s currently averaging 102.2 yards per game, which far exceeds his previous high (92.4 in 2018), and his catch percentage of 76.2% blows his previous total (65.7% in 2018) out of the water. 

There are plenty of franchise records within reach for Adams as well. He needs just four catches on Sunday to pass Sterling Sharpe’s reception record of 112 (Adams has 109). If he happens to snag two touchdowns against Chicago, that 19-touchdown season will also beat the 18-touchdown year Sharpe had in 1994. 

This one’s perhaps the toughest milestone to crack, but if Adams were to get 192 yards against the Bears, he’d set a new yardage record, beating the 1,519 yards Jordy Nelson had in 2014. The caveat here of course is that Adams missed two and a half games already this season. Think of what his numbers could look like playing a full 16 games. 

3. One Away for Z

Za’Darius Smith set a career best in 2019 when he finished the regular season with 13.5 sacks. Now in 2020 with one game to play, he’s got 12.5. The Bears offensive line is, in a word, bad, so there could be an opportunity there for Smith to not only tie his career best, but set a new personal record. His 12.5 sacks in 2020 are tied for third in the NFL behind only T.J. Watt (15) and Aaron Donald (13.5). The Bears have given up 35 sacks this season, and the Packers got three of them in the first matchup (Z had one sack and three QB hits in that game).  

Smith is already making some history for the Packers, as his 26 sacks through his first two seasons in Green Bay are a franchise best. He’s also forced a whopping four fumbles so far this season (with one against Chicago), which was a point of emphasis for the defense and outside linebackers coach Mike Smith before the season started. 

4. Deja Vu at 100

Against the Bears in Week 12, win number 100 in the series was at stake. Against the Bears on Sunday in Week 17, win number 100 is at stake again. Huh? In Week 12, the Packers secured 100 wins all-time against the Bears. On Sunday, the Packers can get win No. 100 in the regular season, which would bring the series to 101-95-6 all-time. 

Matt LaFleur said his team is treating this week like a playoff game, and that’s because there’s plenty at stake. A win gives Green Bay the No. 1 seed in the NFC and a coveted bye week. It also likely ends Chicago’s playoff hopes. 

A loss on Sunday could drop Green Bay all the way down to the No. 3 seed in the conference, and give Chicago a playoff spot. The most likely matchup? Chicago traveling to Lambeau Field on Wild Card Weekend as the No. 6 seed. That’s one to avoid. 

5. Reason for Paws

Terrible pun aside, while the Bears offense has looked much-improved these last four weeks, there’s still plenty of reason for pause. Yes, Chicago put up 30+ points in each matchup following its Week 12 loss to Green Bay, but the Bears didn’t exactly play world beaters during that stretch. In those four games, the Bears played the Lions, Texans, Vikings, and Jaguars, exactly zero playoff teams with a cumulative record of 16-44. 

Now, that’s not to say the Bears offense hasn’t looked better despite the competition, because it has. Mitchell Trubisky has a 6-2 record as the Bears quarterback this season, and he’s thrown 16 touchdowns to 7 interceptions. He can also make plays with his legs, which is something Nick Foles wasn’t able to do (and is needed with the Bears abysmal o-line). Running back David Montgomery has put up over 100 yards in three of his last five games (including against Green Bay) which he hadn’t done all season previously. So things are coming together for the Bears. But Allen Robinson will likely have reservations on Jaire Island, and the Chicago offense is still 18th in the NFL in points for. 

The Bears also rank 31st in the NFL on third down. The Packers, now back atop the NFL as the league’s 1st ranked offense in points for, are second in the league on third downs and first in red zone percentage with a whopping 78.6%. You throw stats out the window in division games, but that’s a lot for the Bears offense to hang with. 

6. Graham Not Crumbling 

As we all predicted heading into the 2020 season, because of course this would happen in 2020, Jimmy Graham leads the Bears in receiving touchdowns with eight. That’s three more touchdowns than Graham had in his two seasons combined with the Packers. 

Interestingly, Graham played his fewest snaps of the season (35%) against the Packers in Week 12 and was largely a nonfactor catching three passes for 32 yards. 

Since the game against Green Bay, Graham has hauled in three additional touchdowns, with two coming last week against Jacksonville. I don’t...really know why I felt the need to include this in the six pack, aside from it being one of those wild things we can hopefully leave in 2020. 

Win on Sunday and the NFC playoff picture runs through Lambeau Field! Go Pack Go and the Bears Still Suck!

 

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Maggie Loney is a writer for Cheesehead TV and podcaster for the Pack-A-Day Podcast and Pack's What She Said. Find her on Twitter at @MaggieJLoney.

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Comments (6)

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MarkinMadison's picture

January 01, 2021 at 10:26 am

Maggie, you're avoiding the elephant in the room. :-) Packers' OL v. Bears' front 7 (or Hicks and Mack, if you want brevity). Two years ago I'd have despaired. With this offense, I think the Packers have a lot of options to neutralize the pass rush. But with Bakh out, and Wagner ailing, the Packers will have their hands full. Do you leave Jenkins in the middle to help offset Hicks? Who plays LT? Will this line be giving up the LOS from the snap, so that counter-measures to slow the pass rush get bungled and the offense bogs down? Personally, I think I would go heavy. I'd put Dillon and Jones in the backfield together as much as I could and use Dillon as a FB/Alstott type back. I'd trot out 2 WR sets with Adams and maybe a heavy dose of MVS to stretch the D and keep them honest. And hope for a calm wind. This is a game where the defense needs to show up, and get turnovers to help put points on the board.

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MaggieLoney's picture

January 01, 2021 at 11:40 am

Haha, I actually had this scheduled to post on Wednesday night, so it was scheduled before the Bakh news. Plus, everyone else on the site had that covered so we had to go with different topics here :)

I did think it was interesting today though that ESPN's depth chart has Jenkins listed at LT, then Patrick at LG, Turner at RG and Wagner at RT. We'll see!

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MarkinMadison's picture

January 01, 2021 at 01:28 pm

Good call.

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splitpea1's picture

January 01, 2021 at 02:44 pm

Nice puns again--you're very good at this.

Last time our defense kept them in check until garbage time in the fourth quarter. They got two nice interceptions from Savage and prevented Trubisky from scrambling ahead.This time, though, no Raven Greene--so it will be interesting to see what personnel Pettine will be using.

It seems that if we can handle the Titans, then this should be a piece of cake. But knowing this is not going to be the case, we need to tackle well, capitalize on the inevitable Trubisky mistake(s), and not beat ourselves with turnovers and poor special teams play. Four good quarters should get it done.

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JohnnyLogan's picture

January 01, 2021 at 02:16 pm

As a newly minted Rashan Gary fan (after endlessly criticizing the pick) I predict Rashan Gary with 3 sacks.

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raedwallaceee's picture

January 03, 2021 at 12:03 pm

Watch NFL Games 2021 Live Stream Online Free Match
NFL Week 17 Live

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