“Mack & Cheese”

NFC Game Of The Week

Chicago Bears at Green Bay Packers

Bears: Two consecutive Thursday games which both resulted in wins. Week 14 against the Dallas Cowboys was a must win for both teams, more so the Chicago Bears because they’re on the outside looking in of the NFC Playoff Picture. Isn’t in remarkable the difference a year can make? Just last season, the Bears were the surprise story of the NFL. A new head coach, a top five defensive player acquired via trade, then they were on top of the division winning the NFC North for the first time since 2010. Now, they’re 7-6 with three games to play. My biggest takeaway from the Bears win over Dallas last week was the fluidity of their offense. Mitchell Trubisky didn’t attempt to do much. He played his game and let it all come to him. He looked very comfortable in the pocket. Mitch also made solid decisions which led to solid opportunities for the offense. He was able to hit tight windows. Number ten finished the game completing 23 of his 31 pass attempts for 244 yards passing along with three touchdown passes. As a defense, you know you’re going to get a solid effort from them weekly. They were able to negate Amari Cooper for most of the game. Yes, he had a touchdown late in the game when it was all but wrapped up but was mostly kept in check when the game was more in question. They were also able to shut the Cowboys down on third down. To stay in the hunt, the Bears will renew the rivalry with a team from Wisconsin.

Packers: They’ve bounced back nicely after an embarrassing loss to the 49ers back in week 12. At 10-3, the Green Bay Packers are closing in on their first division title since 2016. What stands out to me about them this year has been how they’ve been able to close games out. For years, it was always the same. Get the ball in the hands of your best player (Aaron Rodgers) and let him work his magic down the field. This year, the defense has been able to close things out. We can talk about how many points they give up a game all day, but when I say they’ve improved, I mean it. I’ve seen a better effort all around. They thrive off turnovers. To make a point, Green Bay has always felt they needed to dominate teams to win. That wasn’t necessarily the case on Sunday against the Washington Redskins. Talk about an ugly win, that’s exactly what that was. The offense didn’t really stand out. Rodgers threw for only 195 yards passing. Aaron Jones ran for a season-high 134 yards on 16 carries. Despite the productive day, it wasn’t the dominating performance that everyone was expecting especially when you saw that matchup on paper. However, at the end of the day, a win is a win. I think that’s what everyone would’ve said in the locker room. Now, the Packers would have a first-round bye if the NFC playoffs began today. They’ll close out their season with three straight divisional games. Sunday, the Bears come to town for a big showdown in the division.

Bears Player to Watch: David Montgomery– This will be the key for the Bears on Sunday. If you’ve watched the Packers in their losses, they’ve struggled to stop the run. Exploit that. I remember fans being excited to see this kid play when the team drafted him. He’s an all-purpose back, Tarik Cohen isn’t. I look for him to get his carries early to try to stick it to the Packers defense.

Packers Player to Watch: Preston Smith– He’s had a huge impact on this defense. They’ve needed a guy that can consistently get to the quarterback. That’s exactly what he brings to the table. He can rush the passer and even if he doesn’t get to him, he can affect his pocket with his presence. The Packers normally don’t spend money on free agents, especially on defense. When they last did, they signed Reggie White and Charles Woodson to contracts. Both were able to help the team win Super Bowls.

Final Analysis: It’s always fun to get my hands on the classic rivalries. They opened the 2019 season up which was the start of the NFL’s 100th season. It was only fitting because this matchup has been around for so long. All these months later, they meet again. Remember how the Bears were able to shut down Cooper last week? They’ll have their hands full trying to do that against Davante Adams. The Bears need to worry about the other weapons on the Green Bay offense. Especially Aaron Jones who can impact the game as both a runner and pass catcher. It will also be key for Trubisky to play within himself again. Don’t try to do too much. Let the game come to you. I need to see a better effort from the Packers. Although they won in week 14, they played somewhat sloppy football. If they can stop the run to make Mitchell beat them, they should have a good day.

Prediction: Packers 21 Bears 17

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