For one enviable streak to end, an enviable one must continue.
With a 4-8 record, the Green Bay Packers’ playoff hopes are hanging by a mathematical thread. They have lost seven of their past eight games and have been overpowered in two straight losses to playoff contenders Tennessee and Philadelphia—via the air by the Titans and on the ground by the Eagles.
To abolish this losing streak, Green Bay and quarterback Aaron Rodgers must add to their seven consecutive victory string over their “venerable neighborhood rivals”—to borrow a phrase from legendary Packers PR director and team historian Lee Remmel.
Rodgers’ career numbers against Chicago are staggering.
In 28 starts, Rodgers sports a 23-5 record and a 109.9 passer rating. He’s completed 593 of 877 passes (67%) for 6,782 yards, 63 touchdowns, and 10 interceptions. In the past seven triumphs, Rodgers has thrown 18 touchdowns with no picks.
“We’re not eliminated, we got a chance to run the last five and see where we stand after that,” the two-time defending league MVP said earlier this week on the Pat McAfee radio show. “So that’s the focus for me.”
While the 206th meeting of the NFL’s oldest and most storied rivals has no impact in the NFC North division race dominated by Minnesota, it will decide the league’s winningest franchise of all time—at least for one week. The Packers and Bears are now tied with 786 regular-season victories.
Chicago, 3-9, aspires to end their losing streak to the Packers with the return of quarterback Justin Fields, who suffered a separated left shoulder in a 31-10 loss to the New York Jets last Sunday. The Chicago defense has been ravaged with injuries and will be without defensive backs Jaquan Brisker and Kyler Gordon due to concussions, while the offensive line will not have the services of tackle Larry Borum due to ankle/knee injuries and running back Khalil Herbert (hip), who is on injured reserve.
It will take more than Rodgers’ mastery for Green Bay to win Sunday with #12’s broken thumb and injured rib.
Aaron Jones and A.J. Dillion must run effectively to set up the play-action pass and the defense must hold its own again physical Chicago and tackle on first contact. Running quarterbacks have had a field day against Green Bay, and an ailing Justin will present major challenges for a unit that surrendered 363 yards on the ground to Philadelphia and missed more than 20 tackles in the game.
Head coach Matt LaFleur called the Eagles game “by far our worst tackling performance that I’ve seen here.”
On Friday’s injury report, tackle David Bakhtiari was listed as out for Sunday’s game, giving him extended rest for his knee with the bye week before return to action December 19 for a Monday Night clash with the Los Angeles Rams. Safety Darnell Savage (ankle) was listed as doubtful.
Listed as questionable is linebacker De’Vondre Campbell (knee) and receiver Romeo Doubs (ankle). Campbell’s return would bolster the middle of the defense against the run and the pass, and the veteran is one of the team’s surest tacklers—a valuable asset in containing Chicago’s workhorse running back David Montgomery, who rushed for a season-high 122 yards against the Packers in Week 2 at Lambeau Field.
Both Green Bay and Chicago’s seasons have so far fallen far below preseason expectations and the teams may well be playing only for pride and bragging rights. As former Bears head coach and hall of fame tight end Mike Ditka, recovering in Florida after recent health issues, is fond of saying: “It’s the oldest rivalry in the NFL and you can throw the records out” whenever and wherever the rivals play.
Week 13 NFL Picks
Packers 27, Bears 21