The Bears (7-9) were very impressive defeating the Falcons in the home finale on New Year’s Eve. Both Justin Fields and Chicago’s defense were on their games in a fairly comfortable victory. Now they head out on the road for a chance to knock their hated rivals from Wisconsin out of the playoffs in the final contest of the season.
The path is simple for the Packers (8-8) entering Week 18, if they win they make the playoffs and if they don’t their season is likely over. 2023 has been a wild season for Matt LaFleur’s squad which stumbled out of the gate, especially inexperienced quarterback Jordan Love, who was not good early on.
After a 2-5 beginning, Love began to turn it around and so did Green Bay, going 6-3 to put themselves in position to make the postseason. The former Utah State quarterback has thrown for 19 touchdowns and only three interceptions over that nine-game stretch.
While the Packers offense has improved significantly as the year has progressed the defense has gotten worse. Coordinator Joe Barry’s secondary got torched three consecutive weeks, including giving up 30 points to the hapless Carolina Panthers. Some of the heat on Barry was eased a bit when they dominated an injury ravaged Vikings team last week.
The Bears, of course, lost the first game of the season against Green Bay at Soldier Field. That was the 10th consecutive win for the Packers in the series and the 23rd in the last 28 total games in the rivalry. It goes without saying Chicago would love to change that trend in this game.
Matt Eberflus’ team is playing their best football of the season right now, having won four of the last five games. It seems like the Bears are treating this matchup like a playoff game and it would be a huge boost going into 2024 to keep the Packers home from the postseason with them. Let’s see if they can finally get off the schneid end end the season on a hopeful note.
Where to Watch/Listen
- Sunday, January 7 at 3:25pm CT on CBS, WBBM Radio (English), and WRTO Radio (Spanish).
Keys to Victory
Here are my keys to Sunday’s game. If these things happen, the Bears should have a shot to win.
- Hit D.J. Moore early and often. The Bears will need to exploit the Packers injury ravaged secondary if they want to win. Moore is having a huge year at wide receiver, despite being snubbed for the Pro Bowl, and could have a big game if he gets targeted.
- Get pressure on Jordan Love. Chicago’s pass rush was nonexistent when these teams played to start the season. The acquisition of defensive end Montez Sweat has completely changed that dynamic and they need to force the Green Bay quarterback to get rid of the ball quickly. Love has been deadly when he gets time to throw recently.
- Continue to force turnovers. The Bears intercepted four more passes against Atlanta to give them 27 takeaways in 2023, tied for third most in the NFL. Winning the turnover battle will give them an excellent chance to win in a pretty close matchup.
Don’t Tell Me the Odds
The Packers are three point favorites at Lambeau Field Sunday. The over/under of 45.5 is a bit higher than in recent weeks, so the oddsmakers expectation is for some points to be scored.
It’s Football Weather
It’s going to be a cold one in Wisconsin Sunday afternoon with a high of 36 and cloudy skies.
I think the Bears are going to be very motivated to win this game and will treat it like a playoff game. This is definitely a playoff game for the Packers so they will also go all out. I think Chicago will build up a big lead and then hold off a furious comeback to pull off the 28-24 upset.
Official Bears Preview