This week’s matchup between the Green Bay Packers and Chicago Bears already had many eyes on it. Last game of the 2013 regular season and with the winner to take the North division title thrown into the NFL’s longest-standing rivalry was already a draw. NBC was also vying for the game to be flexed to the Sunday night slot, according to some.
On Thursday, it was announced that Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers was cleared and would start against the Bears. Now there will be exponentially more eyes on this game and it is fair to say that this is the biggest meeting between these teams since the 2010 NFC Championship game. The setting will be Soldier Field, once again and both teams will have their primary starting quarterbacks under center.
In addition to finally getting Rodgers back after a seven week layoff, the Packers may also see the return of receiver Randall Cobb, who has been out since mid-October. Running back Eddie Lacy has not practiced for the Packers, but head coach Mike McCarthy seemed optimistic about Lacy’s chances of playing when asked after Thursday’s practice.
Both of these teams lost their games last week and the Bears, a chance to lock up the division title. While Chicago looked awful against the Philadelphia Eagles last week, I have warned against anyone thinking that same Bears team shows up at Soldier Field on Sunday. I expect more of the version of the Bears who soundly beat the Dallas Cowboys a few weeks back.
Now that we know the answer to the burning question, let’s dive into this week’s keys to the game. Hopefully, this won’t be the last “Keys” post of the season.
Avoid Too Much Rodgers
Yes, we’ve waited a long time to have Rodgers back and all that he can add to the Packers offense. Rodgers is one of the few quarterbacks in the league who can return to form in the blink of an eye. He’s an extremely intelligent player who prepares as well as any other in the game. Still, the Packers need to avoid leaning too heavily on the portion of the game plan that calls for Rodgers to get fancy, at least early on.