Clay Matthews and J'Marcus Webb
With a win, Green Bay would clinch their second straight NFC North title and they would stay on pace with San Francisco, Atlanta, and Seattle for a chance to grab a first-round bye and maybe even home-field advantage throughout the playoffs.
Chicago needs a win to stay on pace with Green Bay in the NFC North and to move closer to a guaranteed playoff berth. With Arizona still left on their schedule, a Bears win over the Packers would solidify Chicago’s chances of making the playoffs because the Arizona Cardinals are the worst team in football, and it is not even close.
Green Bay has lost four straight Week 15 games. Chicago has lost five straight against the Packers. Something has to give in this matchup. Therefore, I’m predicting the Packers to beat the Chicago Bears and win their second straight NFC North division championship. This matchup, like any other NFL game, starts in the trenches, where Green Bay will win a close battle.
Both offensive lines have struggled mightily at times this season, but Green Bay’s offensive line has the edge simply because an emergence of a run game. Green Bay’s offensive line and running backs have improved tremendously the last two weeks. They ran for over 125 yards against two respectable defensive fronts in Minnesota and Detroit.
I expect Green Bay’s running game to continue hitting on all cylinders this weekend because Chicago’s defense has allowed 176 yards and 171 on the ground in its last two games. If Green Bay has success on the ground, then Rodger’s will be able to attack the Bear’s defense vertically.
I do not have the same hope for Chicago’s offensive line, even though they have improved just like Green Bay over the past few weeks. Clay Matthews’ return to Green Bay’s starting lineup brings violence back to a diminishing Green Bay pass rush. Matthews will be able to beat J’Marcus Webb off the line to create havoc for Jay Cutler.
Another thing that does not help the Bears offensive line is the fact that their passing game is the definition of one-dimensional. If the Packers contain playmaker Brandon Marshall down the field, it will give Green Bay’s pass rush the time it needs to get to Cutler. The only way the Bears will limit the Green Bay pass rush is if they run the ball effectively.
Green Bay’s front seven is susceptible to the run due to the injury of run-stopping defensive end C.J. Wilson. If Chicago stays focused on attacking the Packers’ front seven by running the ball, then the Bears could easily have success.
My prediction is that Chicago will try to force the ball through the air. While Marshall and company could make some big plays, I expect Tramon Williams and the Packers secondary to take advantage of a couple Cutler mistakes. I expect another average day from the Packers’ passing attack, but a successful day on the ground. Green Bay will limit their mistakes and win the turnover battle in a close contest to clinch the NFC North.
Final Score: Packers 24, Bears 17