The first time they met this season, the Green Bay Packers (7-7-1) and the Chicago Bears (8-7), the teams looked like they were playing a preseason game. The Packers played most of the game with Seneca Wallace at quarterback, while the Bears had Josh McCown under center. The Bears won that meeting 27-20, and the Packers lost Aaron Rodgers to a broken collarbone. Eight weeks later, the two longtime rivals will battle at Soldier Field for more than just bragging rights. This time, they will battle for the NFC North title. This “NFC North title game” is scheduled to kickoff at 3:25 CT with television coverage on FOX.
Both teams enter Sunday coming off of tough losses to a team from the state of Pennsylvania. The Packers lost a back and forth contest to the Pittsburgh Steelers 38-31, while the Bears were annihilated by the Philadelphia Eagles, 54-11. The Packers had a chance to send the game to overtime, but failed to score from the six yard line as time expired. Since the Packers lost, all the Bears needed to do was win in Philly and the division title was there’s. But, they fell behind 21-0 early and were never able to recover.
Unlike the first meeting, both teams will have their number one quarterback at the helm. Bears quarterback Jay Cutler returned from a groin injury two weeks ago, and Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers was just cleared to return from his collarbone injury on Thursday. Cutler has not fared well in his previous meeting against the Packers, only leading his team to victory in one of seven meetings. For Rodgers, he has won eight of his ten meetings against the Bears, including the NFC Championship game in 2010.
While most of the talk should be surrounding the quarterbacks, the two defenses should also get some attention. The Packers and the Bears rank 26th and 29th in total defense, and have allowed opposing offenses to pick them apart over the past few weeks. The Packers defense has suffered tremendously since Rodgers went down with his injury. The Bears defense has also struggled, not living up to the expectations of the once feared “Monsters of the Midway.”
It doesn’t get any better than this. It’s the Packers and Bears for the NFC North title. Sunday should be worth the wait.