The return of the NBA has been the main attraction for sports on Christmas Day, but there is going to be a great football game played Sunday night. The Bears, who have lost four straight, are looking to save their season as they head into Green Bay. The Packers, who are coming off their first loss in an entire year, are looking to wrap up the top seed in the NFC playoffs.
Before Jay Cutler went down with a thumb injury in Week 11 against the Chargers, the Bears were 7-3 and poised for a playoff spot. They were on a five-game winning streak, and had a fairly easy schedule ahead of them. Caleb Hanie took over for Cutler the next week in Oakland in a losing effort. He led three more losing efforts, and the Bears now sit at 7-7, hanging on to slim playoff hopes.
After going 0-4, Hanie has been benched by Lovie Smith in favor of Josh McCown. The demotion comes after Hanie threw three interceptions, with two being pick-sixes, last week in a 38-14 loss against Seattle.
Jay Cutler has been trying to get back on the field, but it is better to let him heal instead of getting him a long-term injury. If the Bears made it to the playoffs, he would likely be ready to go, but they must first focus on beating the Packers.
For the Bears to even have a shot at the playoffs, they will need losses by the Lions or the Falcons. By the time the Bears play the Packers on Sunday night, the Lions could already have won by then, with the Falcons not playing until Monday night. However, they have plenty to play for, with the rivalry against the Packers being something to play for in itself.
The defense will have to step up, and hope that Aaron Rodgers has another off week, as he did last week in Kansas City. With McCown at quarterback and Marion Barber at running back, the Bears simply aren’t the same 7-3 team from earlier this season.
Green Bay Packers
The Packers went a year without a loss, and finally came back down to Earth last week in Kansas City. Romeo Crennel led the Chiefs to a 19-14 win over the Packers, in a game that exploited the weakness of the Packers’ defense and their heavy reliance on Aaron Rodgers’ success.
Rodgers went 17 for 35 with 235 yards and a touchdown, along with a rushing touchdown right before the two-minute warning. The defense gave up 438 yards to the Chiefs, who are not too bad a team with Kyle Orton as quarterback.
As much as teams hate to lose, it is not always bad to go into the postseason with a loss or two. Going into the playoffs undefeated carries a load of pressure that is not always wanted by a team. They can now put away all the undefeated talk and focus on securing the top seed in the playoffs. A win over the Bears secures that top spot, and could lead to Rodgers and the rest of the starters getting some much needed rest in the last game of the season against Detroit.
Even though the Packers slipped up last week in KC, it is tough to see them dropping two games in a row. The Bears offense is pedestrian without Jay Cutler and Matt Forte, not to mention the fact that Sam Hurd is out due to some notable wrongdoing.
Prediction: Packers 35-Bears 17
Chicago Bears at Green Bay Packers
- Bears-Packers Date: Sunday, December 25th at 8:20 PM ET on NBC
- Bears-Packers Announcers: Al Michaels and Cris Collinsworth
- Bears-Packers Point Spread: Packers -12.5
- Bears-Packers Over-Under Odds: 43.5 points