There will surely be significant playoff implications in this week’s NFC North rivalry game between the Green Bay Packers and Chicago Bears. The fun gets started at 1:00 EST on Sunday, December 15 at Lambeau Field in Green Bay, Wisconsin. Fans in large sections of the country will be able to watch the game on Fox.
According to the Week 15 betting odds, the Packers are favored by 4.5 points at home. The over/under for the game is set at 41 points.
The Bears have more or less been playing with their backs against the wall for the past month, and they’ve responded well. Chicago has rattled off three straight wins and has won four of their last five, including an impressive home win over the Cowboys last week. Of course, two of those four wins came against the Lions and the other came against the Giants, meaning Chicago still has just one win this season over a team with a winning record.
If the Bears are going to make the playoffs, they’ll likely need to win three more games against teams with winning records. Despite the recent winning streak, the Bears are barely hanging on in the Wild Card race. They currently trail the Vikings by two games for the last spot in the NFC. Chicago’s remaining schedule also includes games with the Packers, Chiefs, and Vikings to finish the season. While there’s hope, the Bears still have slim playoff odds, as they’ll need to win out and get help.
Meanwhile, the Packers feel like a safe bet to make the playoffs, even if they haven’t officially clinched just yet. Green Bay has managed to put a lopsided loss to the 49ers behind them with back-to-back wins over the Giants and Redskins, even if they didn’t exactly make it look easy against Washington last week. With a win and a Rams loss this weekend, the Pack will officially lock up a playoff spot.
Of course, Green Bay is focused more on winning their first NFC North crown since 2016. At 10-3, the Packers lead the Vikings by a game with a showdown in Minnesota on tap for Week 16. A win this week and a win next week would wrap up the division and give the Packers a chance to earn a first-round bye.
On top of all of the playoff implications, this is also a game between bitter rivals. Green Bay survived a Week 1 trip to Soldier Field 10-3, giving them 15 wins in their last 18 games against the Bears dating back to the NFC Championship Game following the 2010 season. The Packers have also won three straight against Chicago at Lambeau Field, although last year’s Lambeau meeting required an epic comeback from Aaron Rodgers, resulting in a slim 24-23 win for Green Bay.
To be honest, this pick gives me a little pause. The Bears are coming on strong and looked more or less equal to the Packers in Week 1. Green Bay, meanwhile, was underwhelming last week against a bad Washington team. However, I think the Packers were looking ahead a little and will bring their best effort this week, allowing them to win and cover.
I’ll admit that Mitchell Trubisky has stepped up his game over the past two weeks and is playing some of his best football at the moment. He and Allen Robinson also gave the Green Bay fits in Week 1. But I’m still a little skeptical of Trubisky and the Chicago offense in general. Trubisky has thrown at least one interception in four straight games, throwing a total of five picks in that span. He’s gotten away with it against lesser teams, but that won’t fly against the Packers when it means giving Rodgers extra possessions.
Keep in mind that the Bears only managed three points against the Green Bay defense in Week 1, and that was at home. The Packers also had five sacks in that game. This time around, the Packers will have the home crowd and the cold weather on their side, which will make things tough on Trubisky. Also, the Packers have held three of their last four opponents to 16 points or less. They’ve played well against teams that are somewhat limited offensively, much like the Chicago offense.
To be fair, the Chicago defense also gave Rodgers and the Green Bay offense a lot of trouble in Week 1. Rodgers was sacked five times in that game and four more times last week against Washington. That being said, it’s hard not to trust Rodgers in a big game. Unlike Trubisky, who has had ball security issues in recent weeks, Rodgers has thrown just two interceptions all season. He’s also working with his full complement of wide receivers, which is big after Davante Adams missed time with an injury. Green Bay also has the better rushing attack with Aaron Jones getting on track in a big way last week with 134 yards on just 16 carries.
When you take everything into account, the Packers are just a little better than the Bears in most areas, save for Chicago’s pass rush. I’m expecting this to be a close game, but I trust Rodgers way more than I trust Trubisky when push comes to shove. With the Packers being at home, I think they’ll find a way to win by a touchdown and cover the 4.5-point spread.