Packers vs. Bears: Rants & Raves

It's another Bears week!  The Green Bay Packers head to Chicago to take on the Bears and do exactly what the image of this piece shows:  get the Bears out of their way.  The Packers are looking for their fourth straight win and to stay alive in the hunt for a playoff spot.  Secondary but noteworthy is that the Packers can even up the all-time series between these two teams for the first time since 1933.  For those of you who lived through the 1970's and 1980's, that's a sweet moment.  If you're like me, back then it didn't seem possible that the Packers would ever catch the Bears.

It's expected to be another cold day on the gridiron.  The Packers were at home the past two weeks and had snow two weeks back so they're plenty ready for the elements.  Let's take a look at some of the headlines on both the good and not-so-great side of things.

Rants

If You Have Your Health, You Have It All

After last week's performance against the Seattle Seahawks, there is little to complain about.  Health unfortunately isn't one of those things.  Aaron Rodgers suffered a calf injury, Jared Cook had a lung contusion and Randall Cobb had an ankle issue.  Rodgers and Cobb were able to return while Cook was held out.  

No team is fully healthy this time of year and many guys have resolved themselves to playing through the various ailments they have.  The Packers have to hope that nothing serious strikes any more of their key players.  Rodgers is now dealing with a hamstring and the calf, both in different legs.  His mobility has been a key part of his game and the Packers offense.  Thanks to an off day for Russell Wilson and a big day for the Packers defense, Rodgers was able to keep the offense moving and punching it in when they had the chance.  The Packers offensive line has kept Rodgers clean and the hope is they can continue that this week.  Despite a tough season, the Bears have 33 sacks this season, which ties them with the Packers and is good for sixth best in the league.

Add Clay Matthews to the list with his continued recovery from a separated AC joint in his shoulder.  Matthews has played through it but has only been on the field on obvious pass rushing situations.  He will likely continue to play in a part time role, but the Packers are hoping Matthews continues to get stronger and would be ready for the late season push against the Minnesota Vikings and Detroit Lions.  Matthews' ability to be effective is even more key with Nick Perry likely to miss most if not all of the rest of the season.

On the plus side, there is a chance that the Packers could get J.C. Tretter back this week to deepen the offensive line.

That's All, Folks

After a performance like last week's, I have nothing else to complain about going into a game against a Bears team that doesn't have many advantages on the Packers.  

Raves

Ball Hawking

The Packers got five interceptions and a fumble recovery last week to bring them to +1 in the giveaway/takeaway category.  That's the Packers defense that we know and hopefully it continues.  Teams who win the turnover battles often come away with victories.

A Well Oiled Machine

The Packers offense is humming and whistling.  They put up 38 points against a good Seahawks defense and appear to have found a rhythm over the past three games.  Even with a hampered Rodgers, the receivers are finding more separation and Ty Montgomery continues to be a springboard as a tail back.  If Cook is able to return sooner than later and become a short yardage threat, the magic could continue.  Rodgers posted a passer rating over 150 last week and has had some of his best games against the Bears over his career.  The weather conditions don't favor a lot of scoring, but the Packers should be able to move the ball in this game.

Thanks, Coach!

We're probably overly critical of the coaches when things aren't going well.  There were plenty of questions about whether head coach Mike McCarthy and defensive coordinator Dom Capers would survive this season, let alone return next year.  Now those rumblings have quieted down and we're seeing this staff get creative with the players they have to work with and through all of the injuries to key starters.  Montgomery at running back and Morgan Burnett as a part time linebacker are two examples of how they're moving guys around to get more from them and keep the ball rolling.  Back in 2009, we saw linebacker Spencer Havner turn into a key on offense as he became a tight end so this isn't the first time we've seen McCarthy get creative with personnel.  

In Capers' case, he's finding ways to get his younger guys to be more effective with scheme.  If someone told us that we'd see this team rolling late in the season with LaDarius Gunter as a starting cornerback and no Sam Shields, we would have likely questioned it.  No doubt the defense struggled when they were without Shields, Damarious Randall and Quinten Rollins, but Capers has proven that when it matters most, he has a good game plan.  Capers' defense isn't the easiest and there is a lot of communication between players that is needed.  They appear to be doing well in that area of late.  Let's just hope that his guys can execute and we don't see another rookie error that is the difference in a playoff game.

Let's give a little credit where it's due.

 

We all know the lyrics to the song about the rivals to the south.  The Packers need to make sure that it rings true and "keep hope alive" on Sunday.

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Jason is a freelance writer on staff since 2012 and also co-hosts Cheesehead TV Live, Pulse of the Pack and Pack A Day podcasts.  You can follow him on Twitter here

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Comments (12)

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Samson's picture

December 17, 2016 at 03:47 pm

"but Capers has proven that when it matters most, he has a good game plan. "

Memories are so short. --- The Pack are 7-6 and fighting for their play off lives. So Capers has a plan occasionally. The truth is simple. The Pack have given up 30+ points a game 5 times in 2016, including 40+ twice.

The Pack are still in the play off hunt in spite of Capers still being around. He needs to retire after 2016.

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MarkinMadison's picture

December 17, 2016 at 08:34 pm

The injuries at CB were devastating. As the CBs' health has improved, this defense has improved. And Gunter has gotten better.

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Handsback's picture

December 17, 2016 at 04:19 pm

Every game is critical and the Packers need to win every single one. Take the Bears lightly and they will make the Pack pay for it and would love to be the team to knock them out of the playoffs. Three division games and if they sweep them, they are on their way. Lose one and they are out.

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jeremyjjbrown's picture

December 17, 2016 at 07:09 pm

Happered Rodgers keeps him in the pocket throwing on time and dissallows McCarthy from bringing stagnant game plans.

In other news Carl Bradford is released. I hate to say bad things about cut players but man, did that take a long time.

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Thegreatreynoldo's picture

December 18, 2016 at 02:55 am

Draft and develop. Did we need a roster spot or was he that bad? EDIT: GB promoted Callahan to the 53.

I thought Bradford was a tremendous value draft pick. I am hereby eating internet crow.

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Norm's picture

December 18, 2016 at 08:47 am

I found that curious as well and I wonder how much of this has to do with Rodgers' health vs. someone in need of QB help was going to sign Callahan to their active roster. I'm guessing a little of both but mostly the latter.

I really liked Bradford's story and was rooting for him to succeed but when he got on the field wow, it appeared his ceiling was at most JAG and he didn't even achieve that.

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jeremyjjbrown's picture

December 18, 2016 at 09:27 am

For the record I have no issue with drafting Bradford. But, I think it was obvious for at least a year that he is not an NFL player. If there is any GM I expect is not fooled by the "Law of Sunk Costs" I would expect it to be Thompson. Just no in this case for some reason. That said, there is no one that just jumps out in my mind who should have been around instead, maybe on of the RBs.

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Thegreatreynoldo's picture

December 18, 2016 at 03:05 am

Off Topic:

K.J. Wright was fined $48,620 for the hit on RR. One might note that Wright makes $328,125 per game.

Sherman was fined $18,132 for his hit on Adams. Sherman makes $735K per NFL week or $781K per game.

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marpag1's picture

December 18, 2016 at 05:48 am

Darth Goodell and his troopers will be paying you a visit later in the day. He will discuss it with you then.

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WKUPackFan's picture

December 18, 2016 at 07:57 am

At the Hyatt Regency McCormick Place in Chicago, waiting for the game that my wonderful daughter surprised me with tickets for. Wish us luck along the other hardy souls at Soldier Field!

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Lphill's picture

December 18, 2016 at 08:14 am

I don't dislike the Bears or their fans I have been to a Bears game at Lambeau it's just 2 teams that have been around for a long time, now Vikings fans are a whole different species . I guess losing does that to you.

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4thand1's picture

December 18, 2016 at 10:43 am

Funny how each season plays out. The Vikes were on top of the football world at 5-0 and now sit behind GB in the power rankings. The Lions live on the brink every week and should cave in, losing it all to GB on the final week. The only thing that would derail GB is AR not being able to finish the season. But anything could happen, I can't forget that miserable performance in GB against chicago last year. This game will fall on Capers game plan.

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