Playoff implications are on the line when the Green Bay Packers visit the Chicago Bears on Sunday afternoon to close out the regular season.
Green Bay (12-3) can clinch a first-round bye and the No. 1 seed in the NFC with a win or a tie against the Bears. The Packers, who already have clinched the NFC North, also can get a first-round bye and home-field advantage throughout the playoffs if the Seattle Seahawks (11-4) lose or tie against the San Francisco 49ers.
Meanwhile, Chicago (8-7) can clinch an NFC playoff berth with a win over its longtime division nemesis. There are two other pathways for the Bears to secure a postseason spot -- if the Arizona Cardinals (8-7) fall short to the Los Angeles Rams (9-6), or if the Bears and Cardinals each finish with tie scores.
Bottom line: Expect a dramatic showdown at Soldier Field when the teams meet for the 202nd time -- the NFL's oldest rivalry. Green Bay leads the series 100-95-6.
Packers coach Matt LaFleur has not had any trouble motivating his players heading into Week 17.
"The guys are dialed in," he said. "There's a lot to be motivated about. There's a lot, obviously, at stake."
The same is true in Chicago, which has had a roller-coaster season in coach Matt Nagy's third year. The Bears opened the season with a 5-1 record, then lost six games in a row to fall to 5-7, then won three straight.
Bears quarterback Mitchell Trubisky has played a key role in the late-season turnaround. He was benched for veteran Nick Foles during a Week 3 game against the Atlanta Falcons, but he reclaimed his starting job in Week 12 and has posted a 99.3 passer rating since then with 1,243 passing yards, 10 touchdowns and four interceptions.
"Everything I've experienced this season has just made me stronger and a better person and player," Trubisky said. "Just what I've had to deal with and everything we've had to overcome as a team, to see where we're at now, it gives you confidence.
"All the distractions and everything you have to deal with throughout the season and playing within a pandemic, it does make you mentally stronger as a person. And you're able to deal with a lot more."
As Green Bay's defense looks to limit Trubisky -- and perhaps more importantly, running back David Montgomery, who has been even more impressive over the past five games -- Chicago's defense will take on a steeper challenge. The Bears must find a way to slow down Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers.
At age 37, Rodgers is putting up MVP-caliber numbers with 4,059 passing yards, 44 touchdowns and five interceptions. He has a 119.4 passer rating, which leads the league and is the second best of his storied career, trailing only a 122.5 passer rating that he finished with in 2011.
Green Bay won the first meeting this season 41-25 on Nov. 29, as Rodgers passed for 211 yards and four scores at Lambeau Field.
--Field Level Media
|11/29/20||CHI 25||GB 41||393||182||211||350||121||229|
|Green Bay||A. Rodgers||72.4||211||4||0|
|Green Bay||A. Jones||17||90||5.3||0|
|Green Bay||R. Tonyan||5||67||13.4||1|
|Chicago||A. Robinson II||8||74||9.2||2|
|Green Bay||D. Adams||1|
|Chicago||A. Robinson II||2|
|Green Bay||A. Rodgers||70.3||4059||44||5|
|Green Bay||A. Jones||190||1062||5.6||8|
|Green Bay||D. Adams||109||1328||12.2||17|
|Chicago||A. Robinson II||100||1213||12.1||6|
|Green Bay||D. Adams||17|