The Chicago Bears will be playing meaningful football in January, but their Week 17 opponent is as tough as it gets.
Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers are coming to town. Rodgers may have wrapped up the MVP on Sunday, posting a 128.1 quarterback rating against the Tennessee Titans.
There is plenty on the line for both teams. If the Bears win, they are in the NFC Playoffs. If they lose, they can still get in with an Arizona Cardinals loss to the Los Angeles Rams.
With that said, the Rams may be without Jared Goff, who dislocated his thumb in Week 16.
The Packers, meanwhile, will clinch the No. 1 seed in the NFC with a win over the Bears. And the top seed in each conference gets a first round bye.
Green Bay smoked Chicago when the teams met in Week 12. The final score was 41-25, but the Bears scored two touchdowns in garbage time.
Here are the top NFL lines at Illinois online sportsbooks.
Packers @ Bears Week 17 odds
The Bears have beaten up on some bad defenses lately, but they deserve credit. Chicago is averaging 33 points per game in the five games since Mitchell Trubisky reclaimed his starting job.
Those are the only five games in which Bill Lazor has been Trubisky’s play-caller, and Chicago has completely overhauled its offensive scheme to showcase the QB’s strengths. There is far more play action, and less standard drop-back passes.
It’s to the point where it’s reasonable to feel more confident in the offense than the defense going into the Packers game. Yes, that would have sounded insane six weeks ago.
The Bears kept rolling in a 41-17 win over the hapless Jaguars on Sunday, racking up 391 yards of offense.
Trubisky was mostly good, accounting for 275 yards of offense and three touchdowns, but he was also good for his weekly inexplicable turnover.
David Montgomery had another solid day, totaling 95 rushing yards. None of this would be possible without the retooled offensive line, as Sam Mustipher and Alex Bars shined once again.
The defense rebounded in the second half after an uninspired effort in the first, highlighted by two Roquan Smith interceptions.
You’d feel pretty good about facing most teams at this point, if you’re a Bears fan.
But the Packers might not fall into that category.
Packers offense clowned Chicago defense in Week 12
These two teams faced each other five weeks ago, and it was an ugly performance for the Bears defense.
The Packers led 41-10 at one point. Rodgers only had four more incompletions than touchdown passes, and Green Bay ran for 182 yards.
Rodgers and company may have been able to hang 50 on the Bears, but they took their foot off the gas in the fourth quarter.
The Bears offense put forth a respectable effort that night, notching 25 points and 350 yards of offense. But a good chunk of that came in garbage time.
And while the Packers defense isn’t otherworldly, it’s the best the Bears have faced since Trubisky returned. They rank seventh against the pass and 14th against the run.
Montgomery had success in their last matchup, running for 103 yards on 11 carries. But if the Packers get out to a multi-score lead, how much will the Bears be able to utilize their emerging running back?
Rodgers has shown no signs of slowing down since that Week 12 affair. He just torched the Tennessee Titans on Sunday Night Football, posting a 128.1 passer rating.
Davante Adams has 17 touchdowns this season. Top Bears cornerback Kyle Fuller usually just plays one side of the field, but it might be wise for him to shadow Adams considering the lack of depth behind him.
Even given the Bears’ offensive improvement, it feels unreasonable to expect them to win a shootout against the Packers. So either the defense is going to put together a much better effort, or the Bears might be relying on the Rams to beat the Cardinals.
On a related note, does anyone have a John Wolford scouting report handy?
The Bears and Packers will kick off at 3:25 p.m. CST on Fox. The Cardinals and Rams game will be happening at the same time.