Chicago Bears: What to watch for in Week 17 showdown

The day is almost upon us. Soldier Field will be the site of the matchup between the Chicago Bears (8-7) and the Green Bay Packers (7-7-1) at 3:25. This game will decide the NFC North, and the winner will represent the Black and Blue division in the playoffs.

What needs to happen for a Chicago Bears victory

Chicago Bears quarterback Jay Cutler

Cutler will need to play mistake-free football for the Bears to win Sunday (Photo credit- Maddie Meyer/ Getty Images)

For the Bears to be in this position at all after the season they had is nothing short of miraculous. Injuries, questionable play-calling and the inability to hold onto a lead are things the Bears had to deal with and still have to deal with them to an extent, yet they face one of their most important games in recent memory. The number one thing the Bears need to do is prepare for this game to the fullest, and realize how far they have come this season and play with a sense of pride.

A big question coming into this game was how Jay Cutler will play amidst all of the talk surrounding him and his contract situation. He needs to come out firing and play within himself, as a mistake in this game against a now Aaron Rodgers-led Packers’ team will prove costly. Cutler has not played well in the past against that Team Up North, posting a 1-7 record with 17 interceptions and eight touchdowns as a member of the Bears. He has also been sacked a horrid 29 times in those eight game, but his protection has improved with the offseason additions, so Cutler should have a better experience in the pocket against the Pack.

Packers defensive tackle Johnny Jolly will miss Sunday’s game with a neck injury, and middle linebacker Clay Matthews will also miss the game as he underwent surgery this week on his right thumb, so the Bears will have an easier time making sure Cutler stays upright.

The new offense that has been brought in by Marc Trestman will certainly help the Bears in this game, and having two of the best wide receivers in the NFL does not hurt either. Pro Bowl selection Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery have put up astronomical numbers this season, combining for more than 2,500 yards and 18 touchdowns. The Bears will have the advantage in this department, and Cutler will look to either of those two guys to make big plays. Neither receiver was effective in last week’s loss, so look for Cutler to distribute the ball equally to both in this game.

Matt Forte will need to have a big game, and he will attempt to do so against a Packers defense that ranks 26th against the rush. He can be a big help in managing the game and eating clock, thus keeping the horrid defense off the field and giving the Bears a chance. Look for some heavy production from Forte to get the offense rolling.

Lastly, the quarterback is the focal point of any football team. All of the talk surrounding Cutler should motivate him to come out and play inspired from the get-go, and he needs to prove the doubters wrong in what is the biggest game of his professional career.

It doesn’t matter how they do it, all the Bears need to do is get into the playoffs with a win and they can be a very dangerous team. Come Sunday afternoon, we will find out if they are up to the task.