Shawn (7-5, 5-6-1 ATS): Haha… the Green Bay Packers have to be loving life right now. They rolled into Chicago just in time for perhaps the coldest day of the year in the Windy City, and they now have a bonafide chance to participate in the coldest game in Chicago Bears history (which goes back a couple years).
The game-time temperature has been predicted to be anywhere from -2 to five degrees, with a wind chill certainly in the double digits below zero. In other words, no damn fun for anyone. Just sit on your warm couch at home and hope for the best.
This game really concerns me and the weather exacerbates that just like it exacerbates Aaron Rodgers’ calf injury. Cold this horrific can’t benefit either team, but if it can slow Aaron Rodgers and the Packers’ passing attack at all, and how can it not, then that has to improve the Bears’ chances.
The Bears are a miserable 3-10 on the season after having the most active offseason in the division. They’ve dealt with an avalanche of injuries and not being very good in the first place. Still, their eighth-ranked defense has kept them in most games, and with Jordan Howard, they can run the ball a little.
That is my main concern. Both Houston and Seattle had a nice average on the ground against the Packers, but neither were able to stick with it. With a third stringer at quarterback, a decent defense and the weather, I expect the Bears to run it like they did in a bad weather game a couple weeks ago against San Francisco. They ran it 37 times that game.
If the Bears can run the football and their defense freezes Rodgers and the Packers’ offense, then the Bears can win this game.
The good news is that though Rodgers is hurt, the defense for the Packers is finally getting healthier. Other than Sam Shields and Nick Perry, the Packers should have all their other regular starters out there. The Packers need them, as this should be a defensive ball game.
I do see two advantages for the Packers. For one, this is the Packers’ third cold game in a row. The Bears were indoors last week. Secondly, the Bears are 3-10 and really should be playing for the draft. Even at home against their most hated rival, it has to be tough to stay motivated to play in subzero weather when you are 3-10.
I am concerned about the Packers’ drive to the playoffs getting derailed right here. If they win this game, I like the Packers’ chances of closing out the last two. I am going to BELIEVE that the Packers can gut this one out, whatever it takes.
Packers 20, Bears 16
Monty (7-6, 4-7-2 ATS): Not surprisingly, Vegas likes the Green Bay Packers in this game. The Packers are currently favored by four or five points, but that line has been shrinking. That tells you that bettors like the Bears, at least to cover.
I always take that as a good sign. In general, bettors are idiots, so if their money is flowing one way, then the opposite is usually what happens.
There are certainly things to be concerned about in this game. The primary items are the weather and Aaron Rodgers. I think we’d all like nothing better than for the Packers to blow the Bears out of the building early so they can take Rodgers off the field.
Will that happen? I have my doubts. Little has been easy for the Packers this season, other than last week’s win over Seattle. Maybe that’s a sign. Maybe that was the turning point and the Packers will dominate the rest of the way.
Realistically, I believe the weather, the nature of the rivalry, the fact that the Bears — despite their record — haven’t been playing that terribly lately, and the game plan will keep this game from getting out of hand. At least early.
The Bears need to run the football and the Packers know this. If I’m the Packers, I simply stack the box and dare the Bears to beat me with Matt Barkley throwing the ball. As we’ve detailed, Barkley hasn’t been bad lately. There have certainly been times when the Packers’ secondary has been total garbage this season. They will face the added challenge of the return of Alshon Jeffery today, as well.
All that said, I do not have a lot of faith that the Bears can win a football game — this football game — if the Packers’ defense executes that strategy. The secondary is healthier than they’ve been and playing much better than early in the season. Make Barkley beat you and dial up some opportune blitzes and I believe the Packers’ D can and will shut down the Bears’ offense.
On the other side of the ball, despite being concerned about Rodgers, I also think it’s simple. Two-part plan: 1. hand the ball to Ty Montgomery and Christine Michael at least 20 times, 2. put Rodgers in the shotgun and beat the Bears with quick passes just like last time.
The key, to me, is making sure Rodgers doesn’t get touched. That’s a tall order, of course, but you can do that by executing the plan I just laid out. Seriously, I really wouldn’t look down the field at all today.
Get it to the back or receiver and let them do all of the work. Put points on the board early and get Brett Hundley in the game ASAP.
I see Hundley entering early in the fourth quarter. Hopefully, not because Rodgers is hurting.
Packers 32, Bears 13