Are the Green Bay Packers in a must win scenario already?
Green Bay will play its fourth straight home game when they host the Chicago Bears at Lambeau Field to open Week 7 of NFL action. Kickoff is slated for 8:25 p.m. on Thursday night, and the game will be televised by CBS.
Green Bay (3-2) is coming off a 30-16 home loss to the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday night to fall two games behind the idled Minnesota Vikings (5-0) in the NFC North. With a loss to the Bears, the Packers would essentially be four games behind the Vikings, as they already lost to Minnesota earlier this season. They would also be potentially in the mix with eight other teams with identical 3-3 records.
Chicago (1-5) is coming off its second straight loss, a 17-16 setback after blowing a 13-point fourth quarter lead. Per ESPN Stats & Info, the Bears are off to their worst start since 2004, when they also started 1-5. Chicago is now 7-15 under head coach John Fox.
The Bears-Packers rivalry dates back to 1921, when the Bears were known as the Chicago Staleys. This is the 193rd meeting between the franchises, Chicago leads the all-time series 94-92-6. The Bears won the last game between the two teams 17-13, which happened to be at Lambeau Field on November 15, 2015. Actually, they have won two of the last three games at Lambeau, but own a 42-45-4 all-time record there.
1.Brian Hoyer Will Have More Passing Yards Than Aaron Rodgers.
Hoyer has been very proficient since replacing Jay Cutler at quarterback during the Bears’ Week 2 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles. The eight-year veteran is coming off his fourth straight 300-yard performance and has yet to throw an interception. He is completing a career-best 68.8 percent of his passes and has six touchdown passes. Hoyer’s 7.39 yards per pass, 70.5 QBR rating and 100.8 rating is among his best numbers of his career.
There is a chance that Hoyer may not even start against the Packers, as ESPN is reporting that Jay Cutler may be back from his thumb injury.
Green Bay’s defense has permitted two 300-yard passing performances this season, and they are allowing 267 yards (21st) per game and have given up 10 touchdowns (11th most) through the air. The Packers are allowing opposing quarterbacks to complete 63.6 percent of their passes and have just three interceptions.
Rodgers has not been good in his past seven games (3-4). During this stretch, the 32-year-old has a 3-4 record with 12 touchdowns and six interceptions while also taking 22 sacks. He has yet to throw for 300 yards this season and is completing a career-worst 60.2 percent of his passes, though he is coming off his highest passing total of the season.
Against Dallas on Sunday, Rodgers completed 31-of-42 passes for 294 yards and one touchdown. He tossed one touchdown, but turned the ball over twice. The 32-year-old is on pace for his worst season as a full-time starter.
Chicago has the 10th best pass defense, as the Bears have allowed one-300-yard passing performance and are giving up 236 yards per game. They have surrendered seven touchdowns through the air and have picked off four passes.
2. Eddie Lacy Will Run For 100 yards.
There is a caveat to this prediction as Lacy is currently nursing an ankle injury. If his ankle is fine, Lacy should get a lot of work with James Starks’ injury. The Packers did promote running back Don Jackson from the practice squad. All-purpose Ty Montgomery may also get some carries.
Lacy had a season-best 17 carries for 65 yards, which equates to a season-low 3.8 yards per carry. The 26-year-old has one 100-yard game and is averaging a career-best 5.1 yards per carry. In addition, he has four runs of 20-plus yards and has yet to fumble.
Chicago is giving up 107.7 yards a game and has allowed two running backs to top the 100-yard mark. The Bears are permitting 3.9 yards per carry and have surrendered six touchdowns on the ground.
3. Green Bay Will Total Three or More Sacks.
Green Bay has one of the best pass rushes in all of football. The Packers are taking down the quarterback over three times a game. They have tallied three or more sacks in four of the five games, with the lone exception being against the Cowboys.
Linebacker Nick Perry (4.5 sacks) leads the leads three Packers with multiple sacks. LB Clay Mathew has three sacks and LB Kyle Fackrell has two.
Chicago’s offensive line ranks 10th in pass protection per Football Insiders. They are allowing two sacks a game.
4. Alshon Jeffery Will Catch First Touchdown Pass.
Jeffery had a season-high seven receptions for 93 yards against Jacksonville, as he was targeted 13 times, also a season-high. He has four games of five or more catches and three games of 90 or more yards. While he has yet to get into the end zone, Jeffery leads the team with 29 catches with eight being for 20 yards or longer.
The Packers’ top three cornerbacks Damarious Randall, Demetri Goodson, and Ladarius Gunter have struggled this season. Green Bay has given up a lot big plays through the air, allowing 8.3 yards per game — which ranks 27th in the NFL.
5. Green Bay Will Win By Less Than a Touchdwon.
Green Bay is favored by at least nine points by several bookmakers, as the Bears can’t get into the end zone despite having the ability to move the ball down the field.
Rodgers has not been himself, as discussed above, and the Pack’s running game could be limited due to injuries. Fox Sports is reporting that the Packers have acquired Knile Davis from the Kansas City Chiefs in a trade.
Chicago has had success at Lambeau recently, but are 0-3 this year away from home. And the Bears have been outscored by 29 points in those games. Four of Green Bay’s five contests have been decided by less than 10 points.
[Primary Image by Matt Ludkte/ AP Photo]