Just a month ago, the Green Bay Packers were riding high at 4–1, fresh off a 35–31 win at Dallas, and looking like the class of the NFC. Then Aaron Rodgers broke his collarbone in a loss at Minnesota, and the Packers haven’t won since.
Perhaps that’s no surprise; no one would argue that Rodgers should be replaced easily. But the drop-off from the two-time NFL MVP to Brett Hundley has proven to be borderline historic. If that seems hyperbolic, consider: Green Bay has now gone three straight games scoring 17 or fewer points. The last time that happened was 2005 — when Mike Sherman was the coach and Rodgers was a rookie watching Brett Farve start all 16 games for a 4–12 team.
So no one who will take the field for either of these teams was in the NFL the last time the Green Bay offense was this bad. In fact, most of them weren’t in the league the last time Green Bay lost in Chicago. The Pack has won seven in a row at Soldier Field (including playoffs), last losing in the Windy City in September of 2010. Unless McCarty and company find some answers on offense, that streak will come to an end.
Green Bay at Chicago
Kickoff: Sunday, Nov. 12 at 1 p.m. ET
TV Channel: FOX
Spread: Bears -5.5
Three Things to Watch
1. Ground and pound
With both teams dealing with youth and inexperience at quarterback — Chicago rookie Mitchell Trubisky has started twice as many games (four) as Green Bay’s Hundley — this game could set offensive football back about 40 years. And the Bears are better equipped to hide their young quarterback, ranking sixth in the NFL in rushing with Jordan Howard ranking fifth (662 yards). They also have rookie Tarik Cohen, who has added 228 yards rushing while providing Trubisky a safety net out of the backfield (239 yards receiving). The Packers haven’t been nearly as consistent running the ball (21st in rushing yards), but they rank fifth in yards per rush (4.5).Green Bay probably needs to find more touches for rookie back Aaron Jones, who is averaging 5.3 yards per carry and has two games of 125 yards or more — but he’s never carried more than 19 times in any game.
2. Will either quarterback have a coming out party?
We mentioned that Hundley and Trubisky (right) are young and inexperienced, but that hardly tells the whole story. Deshaun Watson is both of those things, and he was tearing up defenses before injuring his knee. Hundley and Trubisky have also been unproductive... to put it kindly. In three games since Rodgers got hurt, Hundley is averaging 163 yards passing and has thrown only one touchdown with four interceptions. His passer rating is 58.3. Trubisky hasn’t been any better, averaging only 20 attempts and 128 yards per game with two scores and two interceptions in four starts. He’s completing less than half of his passes (47.5 percent), and his passer rating is 66.2. This will be the worst pass defense Trubisky has faced so far, but do the Bears trust him enough to take the training wheels off?
3. The Packers have the blueprint
While Rodgers was still healthy and threw four touchdown passes when the Packers beat the Bears 35–14 on Sept. 28, he hardly dominated the game. In fact, Chicago outgained Green Bay 308–260. But the Bears turned the ball over four times in Mike Glennon’s final start, prompting the switch to Trubisky the following week. They also failed to take the ball away; in Chicago’s three wins, it has forced eight turnovers. If the Packers can again take care of the ball and take it away a couple times, they may be able to snap their losing streak.
Green Bay is reeling right now. Its season is slipping away, the injuries are piling up (veteran right tackle Brian Bulaga tore an ACL last week and is out for the season), and now they have to go on the road to face a division rival on a short week. The Bears may not exactly be playing modern-day football right now, but at least they have found a way to win a couple games with Mitchell Trubisky under center. The Packers are still searching for a way to win with Brett Hundley.