Green Bay – Two injury-riddled teams in need of a victory meet at Lambeau Field tonight, one to salvage its season and the other to stay close to the division front-runner.
The 1-5 Chicago Bears can ill-afford a sixth loss at this point of the season, while the 3-2 Green Bay Packers can ill-afford a second consecutive loss at home and fall further behind the undefeated Minnesota Vikings in the NFC North.
The Packers come off a disappointing loss at Lambeau to Dallas Sunday, which dominated the game on both sides of the ball. The Bears, on the other hand, blew a big lead in the fourth quarter and lost a 17-16 heartbreaker to Jacksonville at Soldier Field.
“Well, both teams need a win pretty bad,” former Chicago head coach Mike Ditka said. “Both teams are missing players, but every NFL team deals with injuries during the season.
“You can’t feel sorry for yourself. You can worry about what happened yesterday or what’s going to happen tomorrow. You have to focus on today—the game at hand.”
Green Bay is missing its top two running backs, its top three cornerbacks, and quarterback Aaron Rodgers and the offense is out of rhythm and still in search of their identity. The Packers were so desperate for backfield help that Ted Thompson traded for Kansas City Chiefs running back Knile Davis on Tuesday. The 5-11, 227-pound speedster may well see action as both a running back and kick returner—and could be the spark the stagnant Packers offense has been lacking.
Chicago is missing its two top receivers, best running back, top two cornerbacks, and two most effective pass rushers. While starter Jay Cutler is out with injury, journeyman Brian Hoyer has arguably been an upgrade at the position.
“The Bears haven’t lost because of their quarterback play, but they have many problems on offense and defense and have played well enough to lose,” Ditka said. “It’s frustrating, because they’ve played well at times, but not for four quarters. Aaron Rodgers and the Packers are not playing at the level they can, but I think Mike (McCarthy) will commit to the run, do some play action, and roll Aaron out. He has some weapons like Jordy Nelson and Cobb, but they’ve made mistakes—and turnovers will kill you in the league.”
The antediluvian rivals—as former Packers iconic public relations director Lee Remmel would say—meet for the 191st time in the National Football League’s most storied rivalry.
“I know it’s a cliché–throw the records out–but the truth is, I don’t know with these young kids if the rivalry has the same luster with these two teams struggling,” Ditka said. “When I signed by rookie contract, Coach (George) Halas told me, ‘And remember, you have to beat the Green Bay Packers. ‘ That how he thought, that’s how important the rivalry was to him. I’m picking the Bears—they have to find a way to win this one.”
Week 7 Picks
The silver lining of a short week for Green Bay is a chance to quickly rebound from an ugly four-turnover home loss. Rodgers and out-of-sync offense in search of their identity face a reeling Bears defense. A must win to stay close to Vikings in NFC North race.