The Green Bay Packers and the Chicago Bears continue their storied rivalry at Soldier Field in the final week of the 2020-2021 NFL season on Sunday afternoon.
Green Bay’s Head Coach Matt Lafleur expressed to reporters this week how important the week 17 matchup is.
“This is a playoff game for us. That’s out mindset,” Lafleur said.
What’s at Stake
For the Packers, a win secures the #1 seed in the NFC. Which means a first-round bye and home field advantage until the Super Bowl. The Packers showed how important that Lambeau Field advantage can be for them in their demolition of the Titans in week 16.
If the Packers lose, their fate will be at the hands of the Saints and Seahawks. The Saints and Seahawks are both 11-4 with one divisional loss, while the Packers are 12-3 with one divisional loss. In the case of a 3-way tie, the seeding would be determined by divisional record, which would mean the Packers (dropping to 6-2 in the division if they lost to the Bears) would drop to the 3-seed. However, if the Packers lose, and the Seahawks lose to the 49ers, then the Packers and Saints would be tied and the Packers head-to-head win in week 3 would seal the 1-seed.
Long story short, the Packers need to win OR the Seahawks need to lose.
A win or an Arizona Cardinals loss to the Los Angeles Rams would lock the Bears into the playoffs.
The Bears lost six consecutive games (Rams, Saints, Titans, Vikings, Packers, Lions) in the middle of the season and many thought this losing streak would end any playoff chances. However, a resurgent Mitchell Trubisky has led the Bears to three consecutive wins (Texans, Vikings, Jaguars) and back into playoff contention.
Packers Defense vs Bears Offense
During their 3-game win streak, the Bears have relied on a potent running game with David Montgomery — 66 rushes, 354 yards, 4 TDs. The Bears have used the successful running game to ignite their offense, scoring 36, 33 and 41 points. Coming off of their breakout performance against Derrick Henry, Green Bay’s run defense will have another tough test before the playoffs.
While the run game has been a pleasant surprise for the Bears, they are going to need an efficient and assertive Trubisky to beat the Packers. However, judging from previous encounters, Trubisky’s poor play has been the Bears biggest downfall versus the Packers in recent years.
Trubisky has thrown five interceptions in his last three games against the Packers. If this trend continues, the Packers will be in good possession to sweep the Bears in 2020.
Packers Offense vs Bears Defense
The Bears defense ranks 11th in yards allowed per game and 9th in points allowed per game. Khalil Mack and company still have some disruptive firepower that could deter Green Bay’s high-octane offense, but the biggest question mark in this matchup is whether or not Akiem Hicks is able to play or not. When he missed the week 12 matchup, the Packers were able to dissect Chicago’s defense to the tune of 211 yards passing, 182 yards rushing and 41 points.
If Hicks is able to play, expect Green Bay’s offense to have to work a little harder for every inch.
One thing to keep an eye on is Davante Adams. In the first matchup, he had a modest (for his standards) 6 catches for 61 yards a touchdown. The Packers did not need a dominating performance from Adams, as they moved the ball easily in other ways. It’ll be interesting to see whether the Bears scheme works as well the second time around.——————
Kirien is a big fan of the Packers, Beer, and Battlestar Galactica. You can follow him on twitter at @KirienSprecher.