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Packers Periscope: Week 15 vs. Chicago Bears

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Packers Periscope: Week 15 vs. Chicago Bears

The Green Bay Packers are still searching for their first road win and they have to get it this week against the Chicago Bears.  That is, if they want any chance at the postseason.

The Packers have put themselves in a tough spot after suffering some really bad losses this season.  Now, their 2018 comes down to having to win their final three games (conceivably) and get some help to reach the playoffs.

The quest starts this Sunday at Soldier Field.  Will it continue from there, or will the Bears exact some revenge for the past, oh, 25 years?

The Past

No two teams have faced each other in the NFL landscape than the Packers and Bears.

Green Bay leads the all-time series 97-94-6 and has won the last five meetings.

The Bears last defeated the Packers on Thanksgiving Day 2015 when Brett Favre's number was added to the bowl at Lambeau Field.

There have been many memorable meetings between these teams over the past nearly 100 years.  This week's game represents the most meaningful since the 2011 NFC championship game in Chicago.

Football just seems more fun when this match up has stakes, isn't it?

The Packers opened this season, hosting the Bears after what had been a busy offseason.

Under new general manager Brian Gutekunst, Green Bay got busy and after several free agent targets.  Two of those were Bears cornerback Kyle Fuller and receiver Allen Robinson.  The Bears matched the offer to Fuller and Robinson chose to sign with Chicago over Green Bay.

That would be enough of a bummer by itself.  Then came the week before the opener.  

The Oakland Raiders shopped All-Pro linebacker Khalil Mack and both the Bears and Packers had reported interest, as did several other teams.  The Raiders opted to deal Mack to Chicago for several draft picks, seeing the Bears as their best chance to get the best return.  Of course, any team that acquired Khalil Mack was going to be better than they were but still. . .OOPS.

Fast forward a week and Mack was on the field for the Bears after missing all of training camp and the preseason.  Only a player of Mack's caliber could make that not matter.

In that first half, the Bears scored 17 unanswered points and Mack had a sack, caused a fumble and had a pick six.  His constant pressure was a problem for Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers and Rodgers suffered a knee injury that took him out of the game the rest of the first half.

Just a normal day at the office for Mack, the guy the Packers so desperately needed for another Super Bowl push and instead, he was on the other side.

The second half was a different story.  Rodgers returned and the Packers offense came to life, outscoring the Bears 24-6.  The Bears offense stalled completely despite a ridiculous roughing the passer foul by Clay Matthews (one that actually was roughing, that is).

Chicago's defense had a chance to seal a victory when Rodgers threw a pass right at Fuller, who dropped a sure interception.  With new life, Rodgers found Randall Cobb on a short pass and Cobb did the rest.  Turning and running for daylight, he jumped through Mack's tackle attempt at the goal line to tie it up.  An extra point later, the Packers and Randall Cobb did it again.  

The Packers have won their last seven games in Chicago, dating back to 2011.  Of course, Bears head coach Matt Nagy has no idea and doesn't even care about the history and recent run of success the Packers have had.  Those were virtually Nagy's exact words, according to ESPN's Rob Demovsky.

The Present

Since then, both teams' seasons have gone very differently.

Green Bay is sitting at a disappointing 5-7-1 while the Bears lead the NFC North at 9-4.

The Bears are coming off of a big win on Sunday night against the Los Angeles Rams.  The win erased any doubt that Chicago can hang with any team in the league right now.

Nagy continues to bring fresh and new ideas, getting more out of quarterback Mitch Trubisky than the previous regime ever could.  The addition of Nagy and some key free agents may signal a changing of the wind in the. . Windy City.

Chicago's defense is among the best if not the best in the NFL.  The test for the Packers this week is a big one.  One they'll need to ace to keep their season alive.

The Bears have 25 interceptions on the season, six ahead of the next team in line.  While Chicago and Green Bay's pass defenses are virtually the same in yards-per-game allowed, the turnover factor is what sets the Bears far apart from the Packers in that area.  Green Bay has just seven picks on the year.

It's noteworthy that the Bears will be without cornerback Bryce Callahan this week.  Callahan was the starting nickel back and appears headed for injured reserve.  Sherrick McManis likely fills that role and the Bears added veteran corner Marcus Williams as well.

Chicago is allowing just over 83 rushing yards per game.  It's going to take a solid day from Aaron Jones if the Packers want to win this week.  Jones has been able to create when there seemed to be nothing so this will be one of the better match up's to watch in this game.

The Packers finally got a win last week against a bad Atlanta Falcons team but they still bring plenty of question marks to Chicago with them.

Can the offense generate enough points and succeed in the red zone, where they have struggled to punch it in this season?  In a tight game and in the cold, this is where a big game from Jimmy Graham would go a long way.  We have yet to see that happen this season, however.

Defensively, the Packers have their hands full with running backs Tarik Cohen and Jordan Howard.  Cohen is the type of player the Packers have long struggled to contain.  Quick, shifty, multi-faceted.  Green Bay has to account for Cohen more than any other offensive player save for Trubisky, of course.

Trubisky returned from a shoulder injury that kept him out a few games prior and played well enough for his defense to get the win.  Whether the shoulder can improve week to week remains to be seen.

The only real negative thing I can say about the Bears this season is that they have losses to the Miami Dolphins and Brock Osweiler and the New York Giants.  Those both came on the road, as did the loss to the Packers.  Only the New England Patriots have won at Soldier Field this regular season.

The Future

The Bears are six point favorites after their win Sunday night.  They're on a tear to the NFC North division title and are looking for another statement win.

The Packers aren't exactly that this season, one in which they've been so bad at times that their head coach was fired.  But this rivalry, despite what Nagy says, means a lot to both sides.

There's just too much mojo in Chicago right now and the Packers can't seem to get a bounce much this season.  I can see a close game opening up late and the Bears pulling away on a late defensive stop or turnover.

As much fun as it would be to keep hope alive, I don't foresee enough magic for the Packers to pull off this type of upset on the road.  That is, unless Trubisky wants to channel his inner Jay Cutler (please!).

But what do I know?

-------------------

Jason is a freelance writer on staff since 2012 and also co-hosts Pulse of the Pack podcast.  You can follow him on Twitter here

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Fan friendly comments only: off Comments (30) This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.

Lphill's picture

what an amazing time for their first road victory.

Rak47's picture

With Spriggs starting and facing Mack and McCray having to go against Hicks it will be more like an amazing time to dream about a win. If you haven't yet sat on Santa's lap [ Packer fans] and told him what you want, I suggest making it happen before Sunday.

pacman's picture

Can Philbin motivate this team to play better than they are? Can Rodgers lead this team to play better than we can reasonably expect? Can they both come up with a game plan to shock the NFL? Is there enough pride in GB to make those exceptional plays?

That's what it will take but I just can't see a 'yes' to any of those questions based on the Packers performance this year.

Archie's picture

If GB were to upset CHI this week, it would prove to the world that the team is better w/o McCarthy.

Tarynfor12's picture

Or Rodgers succeeded in undermining MM.

Lare's picture

McCarthy's plays and play calling had gotten so stale that there were multiple reports of defenses calling out the plays on the LOS before they had even been run. That and the playclock was run down to zero on every offensive play so defensive players could predict the snap.

I think the person that undermined McCarthy the most was himself.

flackcatcher's picture

More failure to execute than anything else. I believe the Packers had a perfect storm of factors that led to the offensives failure more often than not. McCarthy and Rodgers disconnect is the major reason. While I won't as far as Taryn, there was an element of that in their relationship. Go back and watch the first half of the Lions game at their place. Their dysfunction was on full display, an ugly site to behold. GM misjudgement. Losing Nelson hurt this offense far more than we realize. Having only two veteran WR who knew the system going out with what turned out to season ending and season long injuries crippled a good passing offense in a pass crazy league. Not paying enough attention to the O line. Gute has no excuse for this, as other commentators have pointed out, not being ready for the lack of depth on the O line cut down on the options the Packers could run in their offensive sets. In the end, McCarthy got overwhelmed by the number of issues on offense and that finished him.

Tundraboy's picture

Think you nailed it. Loss of Jordy was inevitable. Problem was never replacing him and never adding a WR other than Cobb or Adams for years running.

LambeauPlain's picture

Both Rodgers and MM dispute your conspiracy theory. They only time they spent more time during the week with each other was 2008 then #12 was first named the starter.

MM stated they met routinely this year 3 times a week to discuss football and their personal lives in general and viewed each other as friends. They routinely went to each others homes for dinner and informal gatherings.

Did the DBs get together last year and conspire to get Capers fired? Of course not. Sometimes coaches and the head guy get stale and the "messages" wear out, get old and stale.

Several players have stated this very thing.

scullyitsme's picture

I know it’s childish and insensitive, but I can’t help saying turdbiscuit in my head every time I hear his name. It’s ok because it’s the bears right?

CheesyTex's picture

It is hard to imagine the Packers' banged-up OLine holding up against the Bears D.

It is hard to imagine the Packers' D that is minus so many holding up against Nagy's creative offense.

BUT, THE BEARS STILL SUCK!!

Win one for the Gipper, or McCarthy, or Thompson, or Cheesehead TV.

jeremyjjbrown's picture

"Mack had a sack, caused a fumble and had a pick six"

Where is the Macks not worth it crowd?

RCPackerFan's picture

To be fair that was all against Kizer...

The really funny thing is that the Raiders chose not to trade him to GB because they thought they'd finish better then the Bears this year.

Also, to bad McKenzie wouldn't have traded him to GB and then came back to GB.

jeremyjjbrown's picture

That is funny. I personally think Chucky's doing a horrible job so if it blows up on him that's just some small justice to me.

Jonathan Spader's picture

Without Mack what would the Bears record be? With Mack and having an actual OLB how much better would the Packers record be? It's hard to imagine 1 player having that big of an impact on a team but Mack is that type of game changing player.

As for the "Mack's not worth it crowd" they are just jealous that the Bears wound up with Mack. I'm jealous as well.

Guam's picture

I'll reserve judgement on Mack until I see who the Packers get with their two first rounders. Everyone loves Mack now, but he can't fill the holes at RG, RT, TE, S and the other OLB spot.

jeremyjjbrown's picture

He can't fill them, but he can cover them.

splitpea1's picture

Not only that, but the Packers still won the first meeting.

jeremyjjbrown's picture

With how many close games the Packers have lost, Mack could possibly have made a 4 game difference. The Vikings, Seahawks, Rams and Cardinals could have been wins.

flackcatcher's picture

Mark Davis is ready his father's son. McKenzie was a good who could have been a great GM for the Raiders. But as usual for Davis, he treats the guy who cleaned up his mess and put a good team on the field like trash. The Raiders. Once again the leagues problem child. (Reggie McKenzie would make an excellent president for the Packers, if they want to go in that direction.)

Tundraboy's picture

"Also, to bad McKenzie wouldn't have traded him to GB and then came back to GB."

Like this.

jww061356's picture

Think I have a better chance of seeing Santa sliding down the chimney than I do of seeing this Christmas miracle. If the Packers don't come out of the tunnel jacked up out of their minds and get some early momentum, it'll be a slow painful death to the season at Soldier Field. I think that is exactly what will happen.

Since '61's picture

Against our OL Mack can wreck the game plan, whatever it is. I'm expecting Philbin to keep Lewis in line to help out against Mack. If not, this game could get ugly quickly.

If we have any secret weapons this would be the week to launch them. Maybe Kumerow could surprise, or not.

In any case, if Rodgers survives I'll consider this game a success. Time for the quick release game Aaron. Thanks, Since '61

flackcatcher's picture

I'm hoping we see more of our FB in two back sets, and more runs in between the tackles. Bears can be had in the play action pass game, but the need to take the pressure off the O line is job one if Rodgers is to be effective. If the Packers had only a couple of their core players healthy they could win. Still, it's THE BEARS and I expect both teams to play like there is no tomorrow.

Tundraboy's picture

Yes I want to see Rodgers playing the following game.

flackcatcher's picture

I just realize how much the Packers and Vikings parallel each other. Strange to think that one blown call could have so much power over a season.

Fordham Ram's picture

If Spriggs can play an inspired game where he says not this game, not this time and McCray's shoulder holds up and Lewis is used to help them out maybe we have a chance. Think that the Bears shot their load against the Rams and may come out flat.

Don't think Rodgers performance last game was a fluke. He has his best games under these conditions when it's do or die and I don't expect my man to roll over even when sacked. Hope he has retained the muscle memory and rhythm from his performance in that second half and continues on with it for this game. It worked then it can work again. Go Pack Go

PatrickGB's picture

Sure it can work again and I bet that the Packers will play an inspired game. Yet we will lose. Still, we own the series and the Bears still suck.

Spock's picture

Well, once again the game is not being televised here in Tucson, so there's a better chance for the Packers to win (Darn near every game I could watch this year the Packers lost, and almost every game I couldn't see they won). Therefore I predict a surprise win at Soldier Field by the Packers! Go, Pack, Go!

LambeauPlain's picture

Just a few weeks ago, the Pack was at home against one of the worst teams in the NFL.

Virtually everyone said the Cardinals had no chance in the cold and snow at Lambeau.

The Packers instead met an opponent that came out of the gate with passion and a good game plan. As as it is with so many NFL, it came down to the 4th quarter and the Pack ran out of opportunities.

Team do get over-confident and drop their guard. Happens every week in the NFL.

The Pack needs to use its short, quick rhythm, no huddle run and pass game and let their playmakers get YAC and handoff. Move the chains, drain the clock on long TD scoring drives. Keep the D off the field as much as possible and keep them fresher for the 4th quarter.

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