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Sunday Night Football: Chicago Bears vs. Green Bay Packers Prediction and Preview

Sunday Night Football: Chicago Bears vs. Green Bay Packers Prediction and Preview

The Packers come off of their bye looking to continue their dominance against a Bears team that's lost six of their last seven games

For the 10th time since 2015, the NFL's oldest rivalry will be contested on national television when the Green Bay Packers host the archrival Chicago Bears at Lambeau Field. The Packers (9-3) are not only looking to lock up their third straight NFC North championship (and the fourth since 2016), they're also still in contention for the NFC's top playoff seed. As for the Bears (4-8), they're just looking to stop the bleeding. Not only have they lost six of the last seven games for this season, but they've also lost five of their last six against the Packers. The NFL's "Black and Blue" division showcases its top rivalry in prime time once again.

Sunday Night Football: Chicago (4-8) at Green Bay (9-3)

Kickoff: Sunday, Dec. 12 at 8:20 p.m. ET
TV: NBC
Spread: Packers -12.5

Three Things to Watch

1. Packers still have a chance at the NFC's top playoff seed
Green Bay only trails the Arizona Cardinals by one game in the conference standings and has a mostly favorable schedule ahead of it. After Sunday, the Packers will play arguably their most difficult remaining game when they travel to Baltimore (Week 15). From there they host Cleveland on Christmas Day (Week 16), then wrap up with division games at home against Minnesota (Week 17) and at Detroit (Week 18). It's not too far-fetched that the Packers could finish the season with a 5-0 record.

As for the Cardinals, they have an interesting set of games to conclude the season as well. It starts this Monday night when they play the L.A. Rams in a key NFC West matchup. From there, they travel to Detroit (Week 15) where the Lions look to pull off another upset, then they return home on Christmas Day (Week 16) to host a scrappy Indianapolis Colts team that's contending for a playoff spot of its own. They'll wrap up the season with what should be a tough road trip to Dallas (Week 17), then head to Seattle (Week 18) to play a Seahawks team that's gone 9-5 in its last 14 home games. Both teams could be scoreboard watching during the weeks ahead, and it may take until the final week to decide who the No. 1 seed will be.

2. Can the Bears do anything to stop Aaron Rodgers?
Rodgers famously yelled "I own you" to Bears fans at Soldier Field when these teams played in October, and he wasn't lying. He's 21-5 against Chicago with 57 touchdowns vs. 10 interceptions in those games. In fact, during the last five games, Rodgers has 12 touchdowns and no interceptions with a 107.5 passer rating.

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The Bears have been playing better defense as the season has gone on, though, especially in the secondary. Chicago has held all three of its opponents under 200 passing yards since its Week 10 bye, including Lamar Jackson and Kyler Murray. Could this be the game they finally slow Rodgers down?

It's worth noting that the Packers' receiving corps is a little banged up this week. Davante Adams has been limited in practice by a hamstring injury, while Randall Cobb is out after undergoing core surgery and hopes to be able to return for the postseason. 

3. What's left for the Bears
Regardless of how they finish the season, all signs point to significant changes being made for this team during the offseason. So for the next few weeks, they'll be playing for pride (ending the losing streak to the Packers), talent evaluation (32 pending free agents on the roster), and the development of quarterback Justin Fields. The 11th overall draft pick has been cleared to play again, and he'll get the start at Lambeau this week. The reaction to his return has been 50/50, as some Bears fans are glad to have him back after Andy Dalton threw four interceptions against Arizona last week, while others think he should sit and wait for next year because this year is a lost cause.

There is certainly room for improvement on both sides of the ball for the Bears. Heading into this week's game, they own the league's third-worst total offense (298.8 ypg) and scoring offense (16.8 ppg) and are at the very bottom in passing offense (173.8 ypg), but they're seventh when it comes to running the ball (125.1 ypg) which is something that Matt Nagy doesn't do enough of. On defense, the Bears rank 23rd against the run (120.1 ypg) and 19th in scoring defense (23.9 ppg). But they rank in the top 10 in both pass defense (207.8 ypg, fifth), and total defense (327.9 ypg, ninth).  

Final Analysis

Green Bay has a 102-95-6 lead in this all-time series and has won 10 of the last 12 overall in this series. The Packers have also won each of their last five home games against the Bears. The Bears are certainly headed for an offseason of change, while the Packers continue their march to the postseason and easily win this game.

Prediction: Packers 30, Bears 20

— Written by Gabe Salgado, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. He's also written for NBC, Fox, The Sporting News, The Sports Journal, The Undefeated and Complex. He can also be heard on WGN Radio. Follow him on Twitter @GabeSalgado82.