Sunday Night Football features a historic rivalry as the Green Bay Packers host the Chicago Bears at Lambeau Field. The Bears come in struggling, losers of four in a row to bring them to 5-5 on the year, while the Packers' overtime loss last weekend brought their record to 7-3.
Here is a preview for Sunday night's showdown between the Bears and Packers, complete with a free pick. Green Bay is a whopping nine-point favorite at home in this one.
It's been a long time since the Bears took the field, and they've had a lot of time to reflect. After starting the year 5-1 and at one point owning the number one seed in the NFC, Chicago has dropped four games in a row, the latest a lowly effort to the division rival Vikings on Monday Night Football.
The Bears also saw their starting quarterback Nick Foles go down with an injury in the waning minutes of action. Now coming off a bye, and with former starter Mitch Trubisky set to return to the lineup, the Bears are desperate for a win to remain in playoff contention.
The story of Chicago all season long has been its putrid offense. The Bears are scoring an average of 19.1 points per game, with only the winless Jets below them.
Their 321 total yards per game grades as the third-worst mark in the NFL, thanks in part to a league-low 78 rushing yards per game. Plus, at 31.1 percent success, the Bears have the worst third-down percentage in football as well.
Fortunately, their defense has been able to keep them in nearly every game. The Bears are giving up just under 21 points per game, ranking sixth in the NFL, while also sitting comfortably inside the top 10 with 354 yards allowed.
They've been able to defend the pass and rush adequately this year, the former a little bit more, and boast the league's top third-down defense, holding teams to a 33.3 percent success rate. Chicago does have just 21 sacks, low for them and closer to last place than first place, as well as just six interceptions.
After coming within one win of a trip to the Super Bowl, the Packers came out this season with a vengeance. A 4-0 start made Green Bay a top contender early on, thanks to more brilliant quarterback play from Aaron Rodgers and his top target, Davante Adams.
However, they've cooled off just a little bit, going 2-2 in November and most recently blowing a 14-point lead in an overtime loss to the Colts. With the slumping Bears up next and just one team above .500 remaining on the schedule, the Packers are hoping to end the season strong and earn the coveted top seed in the NFC.
Led by Rodgers and company, the Packers are scoring just under 31 points per game, third in the NFL. They have a solid top 10 offense all-around that averages 405 total yards per game, ranking sixth in the league.
Their lowest offensive mark is their 116 rushing yards per game, which still ranks 13th, and is in part due to running back Aaron Jones missing a couple of games with an injury and being eased back to full strength. Green Bay is also 48 percent successful on third downs, the fourth-highest mark in the NFL.
On the flip side, the Packers defense is hardly elite, but it's definitely competent. Green Bay gives up just under 360 yards and 26 points per game, good for 11th and 17th in the league, respectively.
There also isn't a huge difference between their pass defense and run defense, and their opponent success rate of 39.5 percent is good for 12th. Just like their opponents in this game, the Packers have 21 team sacks but only nine team takeaways, the second-fewest in football.
First, the Bears are 5-5 both straight up and against the spread, while the Packers are 6-4 ATS compared to 7-3 straight up. But this has been a one-sided rivalry in recent years, with Chicago just 5-14 ATS over their last 19 games and 1-7 straight up in their last eight against the green and gold.
The Bears are also 3-7 ATS in their last 10 road games overall and 1-4 ATS in their last five divisional games.
It hasn't been all smooth sailing for the Packers lately either, failing to cover the spread in four of their last six games. But they have won nine of their last 10 home games overall and 10 of their last 12 home games against the Monsters of the Midway.
As mentioned earlier for the Bears, Foles is doubtful, so Trubisky will return to the lineup barring a dramatic change. Everyone else on the injury report for Chicago is questionable, but there are a couple of prominent names.
One is defensive tackle Akiem Hicks, who hasn't practiced all week with a hamstring injury. Left tackle Charles Leno is the other big name to monitor, as he was added to the injury report later in the week with a toe injury and didn't practice Thursday or Friday.
Meanwhile, the Packers have a few questionable players of their own. Wide receiver Marquez Valdes-Scantling is officially questionable after being held out of practice on Friday due to an Achilles injury. Cornerback Kevin King has a similar injury but was limited all week, while his position mate Josh Jackson returned to practice on Friday following a concussion. Starting center Corey Linsley is also questionable with a back injury and was limited in practice all week.
There is no doubt the Packers are the better team, both right now and in general, so the real question is what to do in regards to the spread. Green Bay has been listed anywhere from -8.5 to -9.5, depending on the sportsbook, so keep that in mind.
I think it's possible Trubisky can give Chicago's offense a shot in the arm thanks to his ability to run the ball, but don't expect a ton of difference. Ultimately, Chicago's once-vaunted pass rush hasn't been dominant, so unless we see flashes of the 2018 defense, I expect Rodgers to be able to stay upright, make throws, and win comfortably.
Give me Green Bay to win and cover.
Pick: Packers -9