It was courteous of the NFL to allow the Pack to be home for the holidays. OK, not exactly home, but at their home away from home. When the Packers and Bears take the field for the 198th meeting in the game’s oldest rivalry, Aaron Rodgers and company will feel right at home.
After all, the Packers have won the last eight matchups at Soldier Field and the last four played there in December. Overall, the Pack has won the last five in the series and 15 of the last 17. That’s not domination. That’s ownership.
The Bears, of course, were certain they had ended the streak in the season opener, leading 20-0 and watching Rodgers exit on a cart. We all know what happened next. Are the Packers in the Bears’ heads? Should we expect more magic on Sunday?
Um, probably not. If ever there was a team itching to hasten a changing of the guard, it’s the Bears. Think about how ravenous their fans are. Think about how many times over the years they’ve watched telecasts that scroll through the dozens of quarterbacks the Bears have run through since the Packers have had Favre and Rodgers.
The players and coaches don’t care about all of that. But they’ve been reminded of the one-sidedness of this rivalry in recent years. For all of my 56 years of existence, the Bears owned what seemed like an insurmountable lead in the series. Last year, the Pack finally overtook them and now lead 97-94, with six ties.
The Bears have everything to play for, having announced themselves to the world with their defensive masterpiece over the Rams last Sunday night. Suddenly, they have their eyes on a first round bye and if they keep on winning they just might get it. They’re as healthy as they could be, with only WR Allen Robinson listed on the injury report–and he’s likely to play.
Mitch Trubisky, back from a minor shoulder injury, looked awful in the Rams win and is itching to pick on a Packers secondary that looks nothing like the one he faced in the opener. He probably has to use Wikipedia to figure out who some of these guys are. He’ll use his legs to keep the Packers’ linebackers honest and will depend on the Sproles-like Tarik Cohen to make the Pack pay in the passing game.
The defense feels it has unfinished business with Rodgers, who faces the prospect of being without starters on the right side of the offensive line. Byron Bell has been placed on IR and Bryan Bulaga has not practiced this week. If he doesn’t go, Jason Spriggs gets a steady dose of Khalil Mack. Need I say anything more?
The Bears have a chance to topple their Goliath. Much as it pains me, I can’t see the winless-on-the-road Packers rising up and swatting David away. Feels like a slingshot right between the eyes.
Bears 27 Packers 17