It’s that time of year when we reflect on all that we are thankful for. Hopefully we will be spending Thanksgiving Day with our loved ones and friends to renew annual traditions, eat, and watch football (not necessarily in that order).
For some of us especially lucky ones, we will conclude the day at Lambeau Field, where the Pack will host its first Turkey Day game since 1923, hosting the hated Bears in the series’ 192nd game. It’s the tenth straight year the teams will meet in prime time.
And then there’s the halftime ceremony, where goosebumps will be in play. Brett Favre’s triumphant return to see his name and number retired on the Lambeau Field wall, besides greats like Bart Starr, who will make his final appearance at the place he helped immortalize, to honor the career of the old gunslinger.
As much as I hated the way things ended with Favre, the time has come to move on and celebrate the unparalleled career he had. For 16 years, he dazzled us, perplexed us and wowed us and of course, he was always out there–an ironman streak that will never be challenged by an NFL quarterback.
Sandwiched around the memorable halftime ceremony, the Pack will need to take care of business and dispatch with the Bears, a team they beat in the opener. The Bears looked lost in the first month of the season and appeared headed to a top three pick, allowing them to choose Jay Cutler’s successor.
But a funny thing happened since then, the Bears awoke and started to win, most notably by three touchdowns in St. Louis a couple weeks back. Amazing what good coaching will do for you. The Bears have seven new starters since that first meeting, including three on the offensive line, which has helped jump start the offense. Cutler is playing more confidently and they are moving the ball on the ground with both Matt Forte and rookie Jeremy Langford. It appears Forte will return from injury for this one.
Wide receiver Alshon Jeffery is also back after sitting out on Sunday, but the Bears will be without defensive leader, safety Antrel Rolle, who injured his knee last Saturday and missed the Broncos game.
Defensively, the Bears are figuring things out after switching to a 3-4 with new DC Vic Fangio. They’re giving up just 20 points per game over the past month and are getting solid play from some youngsters who have taken over for slipping veterans.
Both teams are dealing with a short week after a physical game on Sunday. It usually translates into a sub-par Thursday night game as players’ bodies for the most part aren’t ready for another game so quickly. As banged up as the Packers are, it will be interesting to see how they respond, especially on the offensive line.
Sunday’s statement in Minneapolis feels like a turning point. With a chance to continue that momentum with divisional games these next two Thursdays, the Pack has a chance to reach most of their season goals when they start the final quarter of the season. But after the last home game, they can take nothing for granted.
The Bears will come in loose, unafraid and ready to try to spoil our Thanksgiving feast. But it’s hard to believe the Packers won’t be ready for them. On an emotional night when the greatest Bear killer of them all (not including that Bloomington dentist) is in the house, I expect to see a strong performance from the Pack.
A win on Thanksgiving night will tie the all time series at 93-93 (with six ties), something Green Bay hasn’t accomplished since the ’30s. With Bart and countless other luminaries in the house from Packers teams past, I can’t see that not happening.
Packers 23 Bears 14