A pivotal NFC North clash kicks off the Sunday slate of Week 15 games as the injury-riddled Green Bay Packers travel to Illinois to take on a desperate Chicago Bears side. Though many thought the hot start this season by Chicago would allow them to dethrone the Packers in 2012, Green Bay has really come on of late while their rivals to the South are just clinging to a playoff position.
Despite the Packers’ lacklustre start to the 2012 campaign, they’ve bounced back nicely in recent weeks and enter this contest with an opportunity to clinch another divisional crown. Their 9-4 record is a testament to the character and resiliency of this squad. Though that brutal Seahawks loss on Monday Night Football surely still haunts Green Bay, Aaron Rodgers has led this team back to prominence and they remain one of the NFL’s prime Super Bowl contenders. There’s been a lot of smack talk in the lead-up to this contest, and you can bet the Packers would love to win the division on Chicago’s home turf. This is a heated rivalry, and will undoubtedly be one of the top games this week. Green Bay won the first meeting between these teams all the way back in Week 2, though the Week 15 edition will be missing a lot of key figures. Pro-Bowl defensive back Charles Woodson remains injured, as does key wide-out Jordy Nelson. But, they will be getting back all-pro linebacker Clay Matthews who should wreak havoc on the emotionally fragile, Jay Cutler.
For the Bears this is simply a crucial, must-win game. Despite their torrid start, injuries and inconsistent play have derailed their season in recent weeks, and they need to get back on track or else they risk choking away a playoff spot. Their offense has really regressed, and their defense needs to find a way to get into games much quicker. Unfortunately for Chicago, their offensive line remains in shambles and that’s not a good omen for the hurting Jay Cutler. The enigmatic Bears QB is battling a knee sprain and that will likely affect his mobility in the pocket. Earl Bennett, Shea McClellin, and key cornerback Tim Jennings are all likely to be out as well. Despite their decimated group, the Bears need to turn in a solid performance Sunday afternoon.
Packers vs. Bears Betting Odds:
Green Bay Packers -2.5 (-110)
@ Chicago Bears +2.5 (-110)
Over 43 (-110)
Under 43 (-110)
Betting odds taken from Bovada.lv
Packers vs. Bears Pick:
Heading into this contest, it’s awfully tough to trust the Chicago Bears and Jay Cutler. They’ve looked abysmal in all facets of the game in recent weeks and though their playoff spot once appeared to be a lock, now it’s anything but that. Key injuries at a variety of positions has severely hurt this team, and the demeanour of their whiny quarterback Jay Cutler doesn’t help matters.
Cutler is 1-6 against the Packers all-time and clearly struggles in huge games. In those seven contests, he’s thrown seven touchdowns, but a staggering 17 interceptions. That is ridiculous. With Clay Matthews returning for Green Bay, things won’t be easy for Cutler. The Bears’ O-Line is brutal at the moment, and a talented pass rusher like Matthews should be able to find his way into the backfield with ease. When Cutler is pressured, he makes ill-advised decisions and horrid mistakes. Green Bay’s opportunistic defense will take advantage, and don’t be surprised if they score some points come Sunday afternoon.
On offense for the Packers, expect increased success against a Chicago defense that has struggled of late. The last time the Bears didn’t allow 100 yards rushing was in Week 8, and look for Green Bay to be able to exploit that area. Rodgers should also experience increased success compared to his Week 2 outing against Chicago. With Tim Jennings removed from the equation, and Randall Cobb emerging as a legitimate weapon, Rodgers should be able to move the chains against a reeling Bears’ secondary.
This is a mismatch, plain and simple. The only thing making this line under a field goal is the fact that the Bears must win this contest. But the Packers would like the victory just as bad, and given all the chatter prior to this game, Green Bay will relish winning the NFC North at Soldier Field. Expect the Packers in a comfortable rout of their hated rivals this Sunday.
PICK = Packers -2.5 (-110)