The 200th meeting between the Chicago Bears and Green Bay Packers on Sunday at Lambeau Field will feature plenty of playoff implications. The Bears have won three straight and four of five to remain in the mix for a wild card spot, while the Packers are on the verge of clinching a playoff spot but have plenty of work left to lock down the NFC North and, perhaps, a first-round bye.
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That was evident in a sluggish 20-15 home victory over a three-win Washington team that gave Green Bay all it could handle. "I just know we're not where we need to be as a football team," coach Matt LaFleur told reporters this week. "I still think ... I'm optimistic we can get there." The Bears have some optimism as well after moving over .500 with a 31-24 win over Dallas last Thursday, but they likely need to sweep a challenging closing stretch against the Packers, Kansas City and Minnesota to have any chance of making the playoffs. "We're in a position where we've gotta have help," Chicago coach Matt Nagy told reporters. "But none of that matters if we don't win. Let's just control what we can control. Let's do everything we can to win this week, see what happens, let it play out."
TV: 1 p.m. ET, FOX. LINE: Packers -4.5 O/U: 41
ABOUT THE BEARS (7-6): Chicago's turnaround can be tied directly to the improved play of quarterback Mitchell Trubisky, who has completed 70 percent of his passes with seven passing touchdowns and two rushing scores during the three-game winning streak. "He has continued to gain confidence and trust with himself and then with his teammates," quarterbacks coach Dave Ragone told the Chicago Tribune. "Hopefully that continues the rest of the season. But you've seen the progress. Things have been clearer. Sharper." Veteran wideout Allen Robinson has been the beneficiary of Trubisky's solid play, recording 19 catches for 265 yards and four TDs during the 3-0 run.
ABOUT THE PACKERS (10-3): Green Bay had 167 passing yards and 174 rushing yards in last week's win after posting 243 and 79, respectively, in a victory at the New York Giants the previous Sunday, and there is a sense that the offense needs to find its identity for the stretch run. "The only difference between where we're at now at 10-3 and being a dangerous force that can make a run deep into the playoffs and to the Super Bowl is that consistency," quarterback Aaron Rodgers told reporters. "If anything, that will be the deciding factor on our fate here these next seven or eight weeks. Can we find that consistency in both the run and pass game?" Aaron Jones led the ground attack against the Redskins with 134 yards while also pacing the team with 58 receiving yards.
1. The teams combined for just 467 total yards and committed 10 penalties apiece in Green Bay's 10-3 win at Chicago to begin the season.
2. Rodgers is 18-5 as the starter against the Bears.
3. Including the playoffs, the Packers have won 16 of the last 19 meetings.