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NFL Week 15: Previewing the Packers/Bears Match-up

December 18, 2016 • Jon Lowe • Chicago Bears, Front Page, Green Bay Packers, NFC, NFC North

Well, I was wrong about that one last week, but the good news is, the Packers are still almost in control of their destiny.

Chances are, Dallas will beat either the Tampa Bay Buccaneers or Detroit Lions (maybe both) which will put the Packers in complete control once again. That trouncing of Seattle, without Earl Thomas, is one of those games that Packer fans may look back at and say “that’s where the turnaround began en route to a great playoff run.” Now, all they have left is a rematch with all three divisional opponents, and this week starting with the lowly Chicago Bears.

The Bears are coming off of a close loss to the Detroit Lions last week, and the Bears may have already helped the Packers out more than necessary. Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford dislocated his middle finger on his throwing hand, and although he will play, don’t tell me it definitely won’t affect his throws or ability to hang onto the football. Jason Pierre-Paul and Olivier Vernon of the New York Giants defense will get pressure on him, and that could cause a lot of problems for Stafford.

Back to the Packers, the Bears also got destroyed in Lambeau Field in the second half of that Thursday game in October, so the Packers should still have the edge in Soldier Field. This is one of those games, though, when you throw the records aside.

It’s going to be a high of one degrees fahrenheit in Chicago, but that shouldn’t affect the Packers as they’ve played in the snow the past two weeks. However, it has never been that cold yet, and the throwing ability could be affected at times.

As far as Chicago injuries go, tight end Zach Miller is out, and so are veteran quarterbacks Jay Cutler and Brian Hoyer, which is different than last game. Wide receiver Marquess Wilson and Eddie Royal are questionable, but star wideout Alshon Jeffery will return from suspension. Inside linebacker Jerrell Freeman will be on his last game for an identical suspension to Jeffery. Cornerback Tracy Porter and nose tackle Eddie Goldman are questionable on defense. Other impact players on IR are DL Ego Ferguson, CB Kyle Fuller, OL Hroniss Grasu, RG Kyle Long, NT Will Sutton, and ILB Danny Trevathan.

For Packers’ injuries, they remain relatively healthy. Inside linebacker Blake Martinez is questionable again, as is outside linebacker Nick Perry. I’d guess at least one of them will return to action this week, if not both. Cornerback LaDarius Gunter is questionable with “general soreness” but that sounds like something that won’t keep him out. On offense, veteran tight end Jared Cook went down (again) but he should see some playing time. Receiver Randall Cobb is also injured, but I’d expect him in there as well. Center J.C. Tretter will probably be out this week and return vs. the Vikings, but with T.J. Lang’s return and center Corey Linsley playing well, Tretter might not be needed. Finally, both of quarterback Aaron Rodgers’ legs are hurting, but he won’t be out until he absolutely can’t play.

As far as the game plan goes, it is very simple: Execute.

The Packers have better positional players at nearly every position on the football field than the Bears do, and whatever the Bears are better at, Aaron Rodgers will make up for those deficits. The only real edge the Bears have is at running back, but they are starting a third-string quarterback, and you’d think the Packers would figure out what to stop first defensively (hint, it’s obvious). I like the Packers in this one, and being two games closer to the goal of winning the NFC North.

Final score: Green Bay 31, Chicago 17.

Photo: Dylan Buell/Getty Images

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