The apprehension level is surprisingly high with Bears fans when it comes to the Bears chances versus the Packers in spite of the Bears rapid and dramatic ascension this season to go along with the Packers decent that led to long time head coach Mike McCarthy‘s dismissal immediately following a loss two weeks ago. Even after the thrashing of the Rams in a game many fans thought the Bears would have no chance in. You would think after a game like that a lesson would be learned to never doubt this team against anyone particularly at home. However, with the Packers dominance over the Bears for the better part of two plus decades that type of imagery doesn’t leave ones mind so easily it would appear.
Even Chicago area native and hostess on NFL Network’s Good Morning Football Kay Adams who made an appearance on the McNeil & Parkins show on the Score 670 am mentioned her apprehension of the Bears chances versus the Packers this Sunday. Sighting her past experiences as a fan of having her heart ripped out of her chest on many occasions by the Packers under both Brett Favre and Aaron Rodgers making her less than confident in her hometown team Bears.
It is amazing to see this type of psychological affect this historic rivalry has had on Bears fans given it’s anything but a rivalry as much as it’s been a laughable match between two teams going in the opposite direction of one another. The Packers perennial contenders not just beating the Bears on a regular but often times administering blowout beat downs often times in the Bears own home stadium so bad it left an emotional scar on Bears fans minds. To make matters worse, often times on national television. That’s a lot to get over mentally and something that can stay with a person for a long time buried deep in their psyche.
Fortunately, the same can not be said for this current group of Bears. Organizationally, coaching and throughout the roster with the players. Checkout this tweet from Adam Hoge of WGN Sports and Co-host with Sun Times Bears beat writer Adam Jahns of the Hoge & Jahns Podcast.
Adam HogeVerified account @AdamHogeFollowingFollowing @AdamHoge
Matt Nagy on #
Packers’ success vs #
Bears (15-2 in last 17, 8 in a row in Chicago): “I don’t care. I won’t care. I care about us and our history and our tradition. I don’t care about what’s happened here in the past as far as streaks and wins and losses. To me it means nothing.”
As you can see Bears head coach Matt Nagy who has not experienced all the history of the dominance the Packers have had over this franchise in recent history is very clear in his statement. There is no fear or anxiety with him and he is setting the tone for the team in his statement almost scoffing at the thought of generating bulletin board material for the Packers and in particularly packers Quarterback to feed on for motivation. It has an air of arrogance and confidence to it. A refreshing change from the over the top compliments and respect for this Packers team almost oozing with fear. This statement to me screams “we can’t wait to avenge our earlier loss we gifted to you.”
Then, there are the statements coming from some of the Bears team leaders beginning with defensive Quarterback Inside Linebacker Danny Trevathan. Trevathan echoed what many of his teammates have been thinking and that’s the loss week one to the Packers has this team irked.
Chris EmmaVerified account @CEmma670FollowingFollowing @CEmma670
Count Danny Trevathan among Bears players drawing motivation from their season-opening loss at Lambeu Field: “I remember it like it was yesterday. That carried out our attitude throughout the season.”
The yearning for retribution against the Packers is so obvious for this team you can feel it. Mitch Trubisky talked about while watching film from that game at Lambeau Field in the season opener it made him sick to his stomach. In the past, statements like this had the sense of doubt, fear, confusion and frustration. This season it comes off as motivation.
On Tuesday, during his weekly hit on the Mully and Haugh show on the score Akiem Hicks made no bones about his feelings towards this Sundays matchup. He hid no ill will towards Aaron Rodgers and his earlier statement about coming to Solder field where they’ve dominated the Bears and winning that game to run the table to get into the playoffs. The thought of Hicks pounding Rodgers into dust and dominating up front is not a far fetched one after hearing those comments. With the way Hicks has played the past two seasons which Rodgers has seen first hand, one would have to think that at the very least will have Rodgers attention the entire game and may even lead to a pick or two with Rodgers seeing ghosts. Something you seldom see from Rodgers. However, against this front with the 330 pound Hicks baring down on you can change even a hall of fame Quarterbacks mindset.
I fully expect the Packers to mimic their 2nd half game plan from game one when they instituted a short passing game which slowed the assault the Bears front put on Rodgers, as well as, compensating for the lack of mobility Rodgers had due to his MCL sprain in the first half. One would hope Vic Fangio has learned a lesson from game one who I thought showed Rodgers way too much respect in the second half of the first game. Especially adding in the fact Rodgers mobility was extremely diminished after sustaining the knee injury.
In spite of that fact Fangio kind of backed off, running pretty much a straight 4 man rush and at times a 3 man rush flooding the field with players in coverage. No real stunt and twist game where inside pressure would be prevalent or any A gap blitzing. Something that played right into Rodgers’ hands as he could just stand back there and survey the field without having to use any lateral movement. Something that had me befuddled at the time.
Also, there was no real effort in disrupting the timing of the routes of the Packers receivers looking to run short routes and get YAC yards. More physical press coverage would offset the timing of those routes and force Rodgers to hold the ball longer and thus give the pass rushers a chance to get home and get some hits, sacks and pressures. Of course, Rodgers appears to have some of his mobility back although he recently said in an interview that he has still experienced issues with the knee especially on Mondays and Tuesdays after games.
Aside from some of the locker room stuff that gives the feeling the Bears feel Sunday will be a reckoning of sorts, there is the fact the Bears have a chance to clinch the NFC North Division championship. That in itself is reason to believe there is absolutely no chance of a letdown this Sunday. So the Packers can expect to see the Bears best which has proven to be better than whatever the Packers have shown this season including the game they won in Lambeau field.
In that game there were some fortunate happenings particularly in that last drive for the Packers that saw Kyle Fuller drop a sure pick 6 game sealer that hit him in the chest and the long run by Randall Cobb where Eddie Jackson made the tactical error of diving for a pass breakup rather than simply keeping his feet and making the tackle which would have been a first down but only a 9 yard gain with 70 more yards to go with a minute and seconds remaining on the clock for the score as opposed not scoring the game winning touchdown as Cobb did on that very play. Until that fourth Quarter the Bears had absolutely dominated the Packers and only when the Bears took the foot off the gas and tried to bleed that clock out for the win did the Packers get anything going.
There is also the fact that the Packers have yet to win a game on the road. Couple that with Nagy making it an absolute rule to defend the home field where the Bears record is 6-1 this season and you can see that reckoning coming for the Packers. This game has the feel of lambs being lead to the slaughter rather than fully equipped hunters stepping foot on a game reserve shooting predators in a cage as it once felt when the Packers were stepping foot on Soldier Field soil.
Prediction: Bears: 37 Packers: 17