The upcoming divisional rivalry between the Bears and Packers is pivotal in deciding the verdict of the Packers’ season. A defeat would signal the end of their playoff hopes. That said, a victory keeps their chances alive for one more week at least. More importantly, they face two considerably lesser opponents in the remaining weeks of the season which could propel them into a wildcard playoff berth if results go in their favour.
Oppositely, a win for the Bears will inch them ever closer to a vital first round bye in the playoffs. Furthermore, a statement win would clinch the NFC North for the Bears.
The Packers’ Key To Success – Offence
But seriously, as always, Aaron Rodgers will be the deciding factor in the game. He now has his favoured coach at the helm of the team, and can finally flourish under the system. This was evidenced last week, as Rodgers threw for 196 yards and 2 touchdowns in an almost effortless performance. Moreover, he is never more dangerous than when the season is on the line.
Joining him in terms of equal importance is Aaron Jones. In just 7 starts this season, Jones has amassed 720 yards on 129 carries. He averages 5.6 yards per attempt, and already has 8 rushing touchdowns on the season. Moreover, in his last game he came off the bench to compile 78 yards on 17 carries and 1 TD. He’ll once again be a deciding factor in the game.
Defensively, the Packers have struggled all season long. With that in mind, the Bears are likely to expose their secondary with speedy receivers like Allen Robinson. Luckily for Green Bay, they possess Jaire Alexander. So far, Alexander has accumulated 59 tackles, 3 TFL, 1 QB hit, 1 interception and 2 forced fumbles. Furthermore, he has displayed versatility in his role on defence, operating in both man and zonal coverage. Also, he has been excellent in passing coverage with a team-leading 14 passes defenced.
The Key For The Bears
Not letting the occasion dictate the result will be hugely influential for the Bears. This a sentiment that Matt Nagy shares. He stated: “I want them to treat it like a regular game because that’s what it is ultimately.”
Although, there are some changes that need to be made. Trubisky, for example, is returning from a poor performance within which he conceded 3 interceptions. Bear in mind, he will bounce back. Thus far he’s posted 2579 passing yards and 21 touchdowns. In addition he’s dominated as a dual-threat, with 386 rushing yards, ranking second among quarterbacks in the NFC. Trubisky’s mentality has never wavered however, as he addressed the media earlier this week. We’re just very focused and ready to go to work this week. It’s just another week to try to be 1-0.”
The Overarching Success of the Bears
On the other side of the ball, defence will be paramount as ever for the Bears. As a unit, they lead the league in takeaways with 34. They have also allowed the third fewest points thus far with a total of 247. Finally, against the rush, they perform outstandingly. Second to only the Saints, the Bears have allowed only 1082 rushing yards over the course of the season.
In addition, several individual Bears defenders have shined this season. Kyle Fuller has a league-leading 7 interceptions, with Eddie Jackson behind in 4th with 5 on the year. The latter also leads the league in return INT touchdowns with 2. Finally, Khalil Mack has been a dominant force all year. His stat line reads: 1 interception, 6 forced fumbles (tied 1st), 36 tackles, 7TFL and 10 sacks.
Honestly, I can see this game coming right down to the wire. Both sides have exploitable weaknesses, however, I feel the Bears will edge this one. They boast arguably the best defence in the league, coupled with an exciting young offence. Nevertheless, Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers will be a tough opponent regardless of the occasion, this game being no exception.
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