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Week 17 of the NFL season is here, and an NFC North showdown is one of the highlights. The 12-3 Green Bay Packers can clinch the number one seed in the NFC with a victory, while the 8-7 Chicago Bears can earn their playoff spot with a win as well.
Here is a closer look at the Packers and Bears, along with betting trends and a free pick. Green Bay is currently a 4.5-point favorite on the road.
The Packers are playing some of the best football in the league right now, evident by five straight victories as their season winds down. Their latest win was a dominant 40-14 effort against the Titans on Sunday night at Lambeau Field. While Green Bay has clinched the division and at least one home playoff game, a win against Chicago would give them their first No. 1 seed since the 2011 playoffs, one season after their last Super Bowl victory.
Quarterback Aaron Rodgers is currently the front-runner for MVP, while running back Aaron Jones and wide receiver Davante Adams each have over 1,000 yards rushing and receiving, respectively. This dynamic trio leads an offense that is now first in the NFL with 31.6 points per game. Green Bay is also third in total yards per game with 406.5, while also boasting the second-highest third-down conversion rate in the league.
On the defensive side of things, the Packers are allowing 23.5 points per game, 15th in the NFL, while ranking seventh with 349 total yards allowed per game. They fare slightly better against the pass than the run, and sit just outside the top-10 in third-down defense. As a team, Green Bay also has 40 sacks to go along with 10 interceptions.
Just when it looked like all hope of the postseason was lost, the Bears now control their own destiny. They followed up a six-game losing streak with three consecutive wins, their latest a 41-17 domination of the Jaguars in Jacksonville. Now Chicago returns home to face a Packer team that got the better of them back in November, but a win away from a guaranteed trip to the postseason for the second time in three seasons.
Quarterback Mitch Trubisky is back in as the starter and has seen much success, while running back David Montgomery and wide receiver Allen Robinson are each over 1,000 yards rushing and receiving as well, respectively. Thanks to the last few weeks, Chicago's offensive numbers have gone up, as they now rank 18th with 23.7 points per game and 24th with 347.5 total yards per game. However, they have the second-worst third-down success rate in football.
On the other side, the Bears are just inside the top-10 with 22.3 points allowed per game. They're also 12th with 362 yards allowed per game and carry the sixth-best third-down defense as well. As a group, Chicago enters the game with 34 sacks, a few behind Green Bay, but tied with them in interceptions with 10.
Starting with the visitors, the 12-3 Packers are 9-6 ATS. They're also 5-2 on the road but 4-3 ATS in those games. This is a one-sided rivalry, as Green Bay has won nine of their past 10 games in Chicago and eight of their last nine against the Bears overall. Green Bay has also covered in 15 of their last 20 meetings against their division foes.
As for the 8-7 Bears, they come in 8-7 ATS, with a 3-4 home record both ATS and straight-up. As mentioned above, Chicago has a rough time with their rivals to the North. But they're also just 2-6 ATS in their last eight NFC North games and 1-5 overall in their last six conference games.
The stakes are higher for the Bears in this game, as the Packers have their playoff spot already clinched. However, Green Bay can fall as low as the three-seed with a loss and wins by Seattle and New Orleans, so if they want the first-round bye and home-field advantage, this game is important too.
Keeping that in mind, I'm picking the Packers to win this one. All but one of Chicago's wins this year have come against teams well-below .500, and Green Bay is too good for them to beat. Perhaps it's close, but for now, I like the Packers to cruise to victory.
Betting Pick: Green Bay Packers (-4.5).