Soldier Field will be the place to be this weekend when the Bears try to slay the dragon and their own inner demons en route to hosting the Wild-Card Weekend. Notwithstanding the 43-point lambasting last weekend, the Bears are hopeful that the return of Lance Briggs will allow for a effective defense. Unfortunately, the offense-challenged Packers also have a player returning from injury who goes by the name of Aaron Rodgers. Rodgers is needed to win the game so that the Packers move on at the expense of the Bears. The Bears will have Jay Cutler starting at QB and he’ll need to play one of his best games if they’re to come out victorious.
The Packers suffered a slew of injuries that debilitated their team all year. With the division on the line their leader will be back in the huddle for the Cheeseheads. OLB Clay Matthews is still injured and will not play, which will slow down the pass rush. Chicago’s one of worst teams in the league when it comes to stopping the run, and the Packers Eddie Lacy is starting to turn into the workhorse back he was drafted to be. It seems Lacy is tougher to stop as the thermometer dips. His power and vision has made him extremely effective and it’ll be of paramount importance for Chicago to neutralize the running game.
With Rodgers out for so long he may be rusty in the first couple of series. Lacy will be expected to shoulder the load. Chicago’s defensive line is depleted with the absence of Henry Melton. Former first-round pick Shea McClellin has yet to live up to expectations after being the Bears’ first-round pick a few years ago. If the Packers’ running game gains initial traction, then Rodgers will get comfortable and return to form. That diminishes Chicago’s chances of winning somewhat significantly. If Chicago can stuff the run and force Rodgers to feel a pass rush then the Bears will likely be in the playoffs.
Nothing went right for Chicago last week and it’s hard to suspend disbelief going into this weekend. But this is The Decisive Game and it’s against the Packers and there’s no shortage of mutual animosity and the newly healthy Briggs will be staring across the line at the newly healthy Rodgers and it’s gonna be a cold day in hell on Soldier Field so anything is possible.
Kickoff is at 3:25p CST. It won’t be pretty.