There can be little doubt at this point in the season that pass defense is the Green Bay Packers’ biggest weakness. That’s why this Sunday will be Green Bay’s best chance for a win in the second half of the season.
Chicago ranks 32nd in passing offense, with 158 yards through the air per game. Only four other teams are under 200 yards. While Chicago is sixth in rushing yards per game, that still leaves them at 30th in total offensive yardage.
Most of the Bears’ passing yards (833) were gained by Mike Glennon; in four games, replacement Mitchell Trubisky has averaged a mere 128 yards per game. His passer rating is a lowly 66.2 – but that’s better than Brett Hundley’s 58.3. This game won’t be a battle of the titans.
The Browns, who Green Bay meets in Cleveland on December 10, are a passing juggernaut in comparison. Their pass attack ranks 22nd in the league – one place behind Green Bay.
Before we get our hopes up too high though, several advantages the team had in the last two games are gone. Sunday’s game will be played at Soldier Field. The Packers’ injury situation has gone back from getting better to worse: missing the game will be Morgan Bennett, Bryan Bulaga, Quinton Dial, and the traitorous Marty Bennett. Ahmad Brooks, Justin McCray, and Nick Perry are also nursing injuries.
Though it was little noticed, the loss of Kentrell Brice, due to an ankle injury in week 7, was another costly blow to the defense. Second-year man Brice had been having a solid season – and he had already made seven tackles against the Saints before he went down.
A final Packers’ disadvantage: the Bears are coming off a bye week.
In games against common opponents, the Bears have fared better than the Packers. They lost by smaller margins to the Falcons, Vikings, and Saints. Yes, fans, these are the depths to which the season has descended: comparing margins of losses.
The pre-eminent Bears player on offense is running back Jordan Howard. He’s a workhorse more than a thoroughbred. Though Howard is on pace for a 1,300-yard rushing season, his yards per carry is a tolerable 4.1 and he averages under six yards per reception. However, he averages just over 20 carries per game.
Trubisky has made news mainly for how much the Bears have kept him under wraps. In his previous game, a 20-12 loss to New Orleans, his line was 14-of-32 for 164 yards. But in the three games before that, he came away with two wins even though he only averaged eight completions.
In a game featuring two of the league’s rawest quarterbacks, the game on Sunday might come down to which quarterback has the less worse outing.
Or, will one or both coaches remove their QB’s training wheels? At this point, what does either team have to lose?