Considered to be the longest surviving and one of the biggest rivalries in professional sports history, the Chicago Bears travel to Lambeau Field to take on the Green Bay Packers in the third of as many Thanksgiving day games (8.30pm ET, Thursday on NBC).
The hallowed tradition of playing football on America’s favorite food holiday goes back over 130 years, however the third primetime game has only been around since 2006. In those 130 years however, the Packers and Bears have both played their share of games, with Chicago at a record of 16-15-2 and Green Bay at 14-19-2. That said, the rivals, who have contested meetings in almost every other setting, have never met in a Thanksgiving Day game.
But putting aside for a moment that piece of history, Thursday night in Lambeau will also be the place where No. 4, Brett Favre’s jersey is retired and on hand for the ceremony, Bart Starr, the man the NFL MVP is named after. It is only fitting these two share the field as the Packers take on the Bears given both, as well as the guy who currently has their job, have had their share of history with Chicago’s finest.
Is the Real Aaron Rodgers Finally Back?
There is no doubt Green Bay will be primed to win this game, not just for the occasion, but also because it was only last week in a blowout game against the Minnesota Vikings, that the Packers regained a share of the lead in what has been their division over the past several seasons. Prior to the win, Green Bay had lost three straight and even Aaron Rodgers (pictured) telling the fan base to “relax” wouldn’t have been enough to quell the rumblings. The Vikings had gotten hot and the division was starting to slip from Green Bay’s grasp.
With injuries to top receivers, an underperforming running back and Rodgers playing like an average quarterback, the Packers did not look like the same team that started the season 6-0. In the preseason they ranked among the top NFC teams to make it to the Super Bowl.
But against the Vikings, a team that the Packers have owned in recent years, Green Bay put up 30 points, even though Rodgers once again, was little more than average. The defending NFL MVP completed just 47.1 percent of his passes, far under his regular season mark of 61.7. He did throw for two touchdowns and no interceptions as he so often does, but Rodgers only had 212 yards in the air, his lowest mark since a 77-yard output against the Denver Broncos and third lowest of the season.
So while the Packers pulled out the win, it should still be concerning to fans that Rodgers is still not back on top form. Against Chicago, the match-up isn’t particularly favorable for the struggling signal caller. The Bears have the NFL’s fourth ranked passing defense, allowing just 19 touchdowns to opposing QBs in 10 games.
Come this game, we could see the return of the real Rodgers though, especially considering that Green Bay’s two greatest signal callers will be in attendance in Starr and Favre. Rodgers will want to impress his predecessors and if ever there was a team to do it against, it would be the Bears. Plus, this is Lambeau we are talking about and this year the team is 4-1 in the friendly confines. Not to mention, home sweet home has always been Rodgers’ favorite place to play.
With Matt Forte, Alshon Jeffrey Back, Can Jay Cutler End His Packers Losing Streak?
For as good as Rodgers has been when taking on his top divisional foe, Cutler has been that bad. He has a 1-11 record when playing against the Packers including just three touchdown passes and 12 interceptions. He has been sacked 18 times and has yet to get his first win at Lambeau. However, to be fair, 2015 is a career year for Cutler who has already shed some stigmas associated with his ability and is posting a career-best 92.7 passer rating.
And to think this has been in a year without Martellus Bennett and Cutler’s favorite weapon and security blanket of sorts, Brandon Marshall, both of whom found homes with other teams prior to this season. Cutler has had Jeffrey to lean on and Forte, the NFL’s leading all-purpose yard getter from a year ago, but they’ve only shared the field twice given various injuries. Jeffrey, who was torching opponents to the tune of three 100+ yard games, has been limited to just five overall contests this year. Most recently, he missed the team’s two-point loss to the Denver Broncos, one that very well could have held a different outcome had the top weapon been able to take the field for Chicago.
Forte meanwhile, who started the year with a season-high 141 rushing yards against the Packers, has sat out the past three games with a knee injury. All signs point to the five-time 1,000 yard rusher making his return in this NFL game though and not a moment too soon.
For the Bears, the hope of playoffs is fading but not totally eliminated. They are just one game behind the Seattle Seahawks and just two behind the Atlanta Falcons, who have been mired in losses (four of the last five), since starting the season 5-0. If Chicago gets hot and perhaps with the team at full force for just the third time all year, they will, a wildcard spot is certainly not off the table. It all begins in Green Bay however as this is a must win for the Bears.
Our Preview’s Chicago Bears vs Green Bay Packers Betting Picks Predictions
93-92-6 is what is on the line for the Packers if they win at home here. Of course, taking the lead over the Vikings, who don’t play until Sunday, is also on the line as is winning a special game where one of the best of all time will have his number retired. The Packers have the momentum back finally and they have all of the emotional factors going as well. Not to mention, the Bears have been miserably outmatched when playing the Packers during the Cutler era.
Chicago is not nearly as bad as many thought they’d be so expect a close game. However, when the proverbial dust settles, Cutler will be 1-12 against the Packers.