It’s Christmas Day, but the mood will be anything but festive when two bitter rivals do battle in Week 16 action in Lambeau Field. The reeling Chicago Bears travel to Green Bay to take on an angry Packers squad looking to rebound from their first defeat of the season. A lot is riding on this game for Green Bay, as a win would secure first place in the NFC, meaning home-field advantage throughout the post-season. For the Bears it has been a cruel second half of the season for a squad that once looked so promising. Injuries to Matt Forte and Jay Cutler have derailed this team, and they now turn to journeyman quarterback Josh McCown to replace Caleb Hanie and finish out the season for the Bears.
The Bears have all but been eliminated from post-season contention and will in all likelihood only be playing for pride Christmas evening. Though they have vowed not to quit, and make life difficult on their bitter rivals, it remains to be seen how effective they can be without legitimate threats on the offensive side of the football.
For Green Bay, they too will be somewhat depleted as wide-out Greg Jennings will be forced to sit out his second straight contest as he is still fighting a knee injury. Meanwhile, right tackle Bryan Bulaga will also have to miss this game due to injury. The Bears will also be without key receiver Johnny Knox who is out for the remainder of the season, and perhaps running back Marion Barber. If Barber cannot go, look for Kahlil Bell to get the bulk of the workload against a vulnerable Packers run defense.
Bears vs. Packers Spread, Line, and Betting Odds:
Chicago Bears +11 (-110)
@ Green Bay Packers -11 (-110)
Over 42 (-110)
Under 42 (-110)
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Bears vs. Packers Pick:
A month ago this game had football fans salivating over the potential implications, however key injuries on both sides of the football have severely dampened expectations. The Packers should rebound in emphatic fashion against a listless offensive unit against Chicago. Though Green Bay’s defense has some glaring holes that can be exploited, this Bears unit is not capable of doing so.
On offense is where the game should turn quite dramatically for Green Bay. The Packers have a dominant aerial attack led by their cerebral quarterback Aaron Rodgers. Rodgers leads the 4th ranked passing offense against a struggling group of defensive backs. The Bears enter this contest ranked 27th defending the pass, and if their difficulties persist, it could be a long Christmas evening for the Bears in the chilly confines of Lambeau Field.
Don’t expect any sort of Christmas Miracle for McCown and the Bears offense in this contest. While the Bears defense may utilize their weapons in Urlacher and Peppers to disrupt the flow of Rodgers and the Packers attack, the Bears will not generate enough offense to move the chains and put points on the board to keep this game close. A couple early Packers scores from an angry team will deflate the morale of Chicago, and force a rusty McCown to the air with a depleted receiving corps.
However, if Green Bay gets up early, do not be surprised if coach Mike McCarthy pulls out a couple key players in the latter stages of the game. These are difficult late-season factors to handicap, but expect Rodgers to at the very least build up a comfortable enough lead to rest for the final quarter. Against an inept offense, Green Bay will have nothing to worry about in this contest, and should be able to easily run out the latter stages of the game behind their strong running back James Starks. For these reasons, consider the under 42 points in this Christmas contest. Taking the under in Green Bay contests is always a tad risky, though I only foresee the starting Packers playing a maximum of three quarters. Expect a decent showing from the Bears defense to be negated by their pathetic offense, while Rodgers and company establish a comfortable lead and spend the rest of the game spreading holiday cheer from the sidelines.