Line: GB -3.0
Sunday afternoon in the NFL will provide us with yet another exciting game as the Green Bay Packers travel into Soldier Field to take on the Chicago Bears for the NFC North Division title.
The biggest Christmas present the Packers received was the news that their star quarterback Aaron Rodgers has been cleared to play on Sunday in what will be the biggest game for both teams.
Rodgers missed his seventh straight game in last Sunday’s home loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers 38-31 and thought they were all but eliminated from postseason play but thanks to the Chicago Bears laying an egg later that night in a 54-11 blowout loss at Philadelphia… it set the stage for Sunday.
The Packers (7-7-1) with Rodgers back in action after recovering from a broken collarbone suffered back on Nov 4 will be in search of their third straight division title. It was that first meeting with the Bears back in Green Bay where Rodgers suffered his broken collarbone. The Packers also lost the game 27-20.
“We’re talking about the best player in football. I feel good about it,” Packers coach Mike McCarthy said of Rodgers taking the field on Sunday.
Rodgers before his injury had 15 touchdowns to four interceptions for 2,218 yards passing, while his replacements have eight touchdowns to 10 picks with 2,002 yards through the air.
Also expected back in action will be receiver Randall Cobb, who has missed 10 games with a fractured fibula suffered back on Oct. 13 to help give Rodgers an extra weapon.
Defensively, Green Bay will be without star linebacker Clay Matthews, who aggravated a right thumb injury last Sunday and will have linebacker Mike Neal in his absence.
“I’m not Clay Matthews, I’ve said that before,” Neal said. “I’m not trying to fill Clay’s shoes, I’m trying to fill Mike Neal’s shoes.”
For the Bears (8-7), they will try to bounce back after last week’s failure to wrap up the title as Jay Cutler who has a 1-8 record against the Packers is coming off their worst performance in a game where they finished with a season-low 257 yards and were out of it from the get go falling behind 21-0 after the first quarter.
Following the loss, first-year coach Marc Trestman told his team to have “good amnesia.”
“I’ve got to be the voice of reason,” Trestman said. “I’ve got to see the big picture.”
The biggest problem facing the Packers on Sunday is that they simply have no answer against the run where they are allowing an NFL-worst 161.5 yards per game on the ground—25.6 yards more than the next closest team. And, with a defense allowing 5.4 yards per carry, that is the worst in the NFL since the 1961 Minnesota Vikings.
Green Bay ranks seventh in the run with 131.7 yards per game and rookie Eddie Lacy is also ranked seventh with a 79.4 run average, but has stepped up his game to 96.7 yards over his last three games on 56 carries with four touchdowns. Lacy did hurt his ankle last week against the Steelers, but coach McCarthy feels good Lacy being in action on Sunday.
“I feel Eddie is in a good place,” McCarthy said. “I expect him to play.”
The Bears will look to linebacker Lance Briggs having a better game after returning to action last week following a seven game layoff due to a fractured shoulder.
“Lance is going to get better the more he plays,” Chicago defensive coordinator Mel Tucker said.
Offensively, the Bears will counter with a prolific passing game in which Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffrey have combined for 180 receptions, 2,562 yards and 18 touchdown receptions.
But, with Chicago’s lack of success against Green Bay, the oddsmakers have made the visiting Packers a (minus -3.0) point favorite, but get the latest spread on the game up until kickoff right here at Wonder Punter.
I just feel with the return of Rodgers and the confidence to run on the Bears, I like and predict the visiting Packers to go into Soldier Field and leave with an NFC North title.
Prediction/Pick: Green Bay
By Mario Martinez- Wonder Punter