SERIES HISTORY: 196th regular-season meeting. Packers lead series, 96-93-6. The Bears have lost five straight to the Packers, and nine of the last 10. The Bears last beat Green Bay at Soldier Field in 2010. Green Bay has won its last eight games at Soldier Field, including the 2010 NFC Championship Game, and four in a row in Chicago in December.
KEYS TO THE GAME: Chicago's defensive front dominated the Rams' high-powered offense last week, resulting in quarterback Jared Goff's dismal four-interception performance. Outside linebacker Khalil Mack and defensive tackle Akiem Hicks are premier players and have made life miserable for quarterbacks all season. It stands to reason that the Packers will dust off the game plan that worked in the second half of the Week 1 matchup between these teams, when Rodgers played through a knee injury to lead a massive second-half comeback. The winning recipe that night? A bunch of quick-hitting passes, with Rodgers getting the ball to the perimeter before the pass rush could get to Rodgers. Of course, Bears defensive coordinator Vic Fangio has to know that will be Green Bay's game plan. That puts the pressure on the Packers' receivers to get open quickly and Rodgers to throw it on time and on the money.
Defensively, Green Bay has to put the game in quarterback Mitchell Trubisky's hands. Trubisky, has had his moments but hasn't been consistent. After missing two games with a shoulder injury, Trubisky was 16-of-30 for 110 yards with three interceptions against the Rams last week. The key is keeping Trubisky contained in the pocket - he's the team's second-leading rusher. With the emergence of rookie Jaire Alexander and the return of Bashaud Breeland, who had a pick-six last week, the Packers' cornerback corps is in reasonably good shape to match up against the Bears’ receivers.
FRIDAY INJURY REPORT
GREEN BAY PACKERS
--DOUBTFUL: T Bryan Bulaga (knee)
--QUESTIONABLE: CB Bashaud Breeland (groin, not injury related), DT Kenny Clark (elbow)
--QUESTIONABLE: S Eddie Jackson (shin), DT Bilal Nichols (knee), WR Allen Robinson II (hip)
MATCHUPS TO WATCH:
--Bears LB Khalil Mack, who has 10 sacks and six forced fumbles, vs. Packers RT Jason Spriggs, who has eight career starts in three seasons. Spriggs may play for Bryan Bulaga, who has battled a knee injury. Mack played on the left side of the defense in the first game and beat up Bulaga but has moved around according to matchups and likely would be pitted often on this side against either Spriggs or Bulaga. Mack wore out the Packers' line in the first game with a pick-6, forced fumble/recovered and a sack. No doubt the Packers will devote more double- or triple-teams to Mack's side in this one.
--Packers ILB Blake Martinez vs. Bears RBs Jordan Howard and Tarik Cohen. The hard-charging Howard is the team's lead rusher while the diminutive Cohen is dynamic on the perimeter and the team's leading receiver. They'll test Martinez, who is second in the NFL in tackles. Green Bay's best hope on defense is to force Chicago into third-and-long situations. They'll have a hard time accomplishing that goal if Martinez isn't on his game.
PLAYER SPOTLIGHT: Packers QB Aaron Rodgers. Chicago's defense might be the best in the NFL. It ranks third in the league in points allowed, in the top four in just about every category that matters and is forcing turnovers at a ridiculous rate compared to the rest of the league. Chicago's defensive front has the potential to dominate Green Bay's beat-up line. All of that means Rodgers is going to have to play his best game of the season if the Packers have a chance to keep their dim playoff hopes alive with an upset win. The problem is Rodgers hasn't played like his two-time MVP self for much of the season. While he's thrown 23 touchdowns vs. one interception, he's completed only 62.0 percent of his passes.
FAST FACTS: PACKERS QB AARON RODGERS has 1,043 pass yards (260.8 per game) with 10 TDs vs. 0 INTs for 111.7 rating in his past 4 vs. Chi. In 20 career meetings, has 45 pass TDs vs. 9 INTs for 108.3 rating. Has 27 TD passes vs. 0 INTs for 114 rating in his past 11 vs. division. His 27 consec. TD passes without INT vs. division is 3rd-longest streak since 2002 (DREW BREES, 28 vs. NFC North from 2009-14 & Rodgers, 28 vs. NFC North from 2013-15). Has not thrown an INT in 368 pass attempts, longest streak in NFL history. ... RB AARON JONES had 106 scrimmage yards (78 rush, 28 rec.) & rush TD last week. Aims for his 6th in row with rush TD. Since Week 10, ranks tied for 2nd in NFL with 6 rush TDs. ... WR DAVANTE ADAMS had 7 catches for 81 yards & TD in Week 14. Ties for NFL lead with 12 TD catches this season. ... WR RANDALL COBB had rec. TD last week. Had 9 catches for 142 yards & TD in Week 1 meeting. ... LB BLAKE MARTINEZ led team with 12 tackles in Week 14. Is 1 of 2 in NFL (DARIUS LEONARD) with 110+ tackles (118) & 4+ sacks (4) this season. ... CB BASHAUD BREELAND had 22-yard INT-TD last week, his 2nd-career INT-TD. Has INT in 2 of his past 3. ... BEARS QB MITCHELL TRUBISKY has 6.7 yards per rush avg. this season, 2nd-highest in NFL (min. 50 atts.). ... RB JORDAN HOWARD rushed for 101 yards last week. ... WR ALLEN ROBINSON aims for his 3rd in row with 5+ catches. ... T BRADLEY SOWELL had 2-yard TD catch last week, his 1st-career TD. ... BEARS defense had 4 INTs & 3 sacks last week. Ranks 1st in NFL in turnover differential (+13) & INTs (25) & 3rd in scoring defense (19 points allowed per game). ... LB KHALIL MACK had sack & FF last week. Aims for his 3rd in row with sack. Ties for 1st in NFL with 6 FFs this season. ... DT AKIEM HICKS aims for his 3rd in row at home & 3rd in row overall with sack. ... CB KYLE FULLER had INT in Week 14. Ties for NFL lead with career-high 7 INTs in 2018.
PREDICTION: The Packers are in desperation mode with their playoff chances but facing Chicago's defense is coming at a poor time. The Bears defense appeared to right the ship last week after losing to the New York Giants the previous week. The Bears will make enough things happen offensively and it will be enough for their defense to get by the Packers.
OUR PICK: Bears, 20-13