Chicago Bears: What You Need to Know Heading into Week 17

Ross Read@@RossReadContributor IIIDecember 25, 2013

Chicago Bears: What You Need to Know Heading into Week 17

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    The Bears will likely spend the holiday week trying to regroup after Sunday night's blowout loss against the Eagles. They will now play the Green Bay Packers in the last game of the regular season with the NFC North title on the line. 

    As questions swirl around Aaron Rodgers and Jay Cutler, we tell you what you need to know heading into the game that will decide the division. 

Aaron Rodgers Is "Feeling Better"

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    Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers last played on Nov 4 against the Chicago Bears. A hit from defensive end Shea McClellin caused Rodgers to break his collarbone. He exited the game during the opening series and has not played since. 

    Rodgers has missed the last eight games due to the injury. During that time the Packers have gone 2-5-1. Rogers has been practicing on a limited basis over the last few weeks and has still remained out despite the Packers being in the thick of the playoff race. 

    On his ESPN Milwaulkee radio show, Rodgers said "I'm feeling better and not thinking about my injury at all." This only adds fuel to the speculation of him playing on Sunday. He went on to say the decision is still in the hands of the medical staff and organization. 

    The Packers will not practice again until Thursday. The decision will be made then on whether he will play or not.  

Jay Cutler Is Still the Guy for Now

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    Questions resurfaced after Sunday night's game about whether Jay Cutler or Josh McCown should start against the Packers. 

    Head coach Marc Trestman squashed the talk right away by sticking with Cutler but no doubt the starter is under the microscope this week. 

    Cutler could be entering his final game as a Chicago Bear. A loss would eliminate the Bears from the postseason, and Cutler is an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season. 

    A poor performance on Sunday against the Packers could sway the Bears brass away from Cutler. Josh McCown has performed well in relief of Cutler and would be a considerably cheaper option next year. It's safe to say Cutler needs to have a very good performance on Sunday to win and stay in the Bears' future plans. 

It Doesn't Get Any Easier for the Defense This Week

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    The Bears defense gave up a season-high 289 yards on the ground in a loss to the Eagles on Sunday. That's the fourth time this year they have given up over 200 rushing yards this season. 

    It doesn't get any easier against Eddie Lacy and the Packers this week. Lacy, the favorite to win Offensive Rookie of the Year, has rushed for over 1,100 yards this season including 150 yards in a Week 9 matchup against the Bears. 

    Chicago's run defense is ranked dead last in the league. Whether it's Aaron Rodgers or Matt Flynn at quarterback for the Packers, expect Green Bay to feed their rookie running back. The banged-up Bears defense will have their hands full again. 

There's Pressure on the Offense

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    The defense took the brunt of the blame following Sunday's blowout loss to the Eagles, but the offense shouldn't be let off the hook. Prior to the game, the Eagles defense was ranked 30th overall in the league and 31st against the pass. 

    Just one week before, Philadelphia's defense gave up 48 points to the Minnesota Vikings. Jay Cutler and the Bears offense was only able to muster up 11 points. 

    The Bears were not able to protect Jay Cutlerhe only completed 56.4 percent of his passes, and Matt Forte got only nine carries. 

    This Bears defense has been bad all year, but it's inexcusable for an offense that was ranked second in the league in points before the Eagles game to lay an egg like they did. 

    If Chicago wants to go to the playoffs, their offense is going to have to move the ball and put some points on the board. It might have to take over 30 points from this offense to beat a Packers team that scores over 25 points per game this season. 

All Can Be Forgotten with a Win

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    The debacle in Philadelphia was certainly one of the low points of the season, but all is not lost. Even with the injuries and bad defense, the Bears are playing for an NFC North title on Sunday. 

    The NFL is a week-to-week league. Many left the Bears for dead after the demoralizing loss in Minnesota at the beginning of December but they went on to win two straight games after that. 

    The Packers are just as flawed as the Bears. They let a game slip through their hands last Sunday against the Pittsburgh Steelers. Chicago has already beat Green Bay once this season and can do it again. 

    If the Bears beat or tie the Packers and win the NFC North, all is forgotten. The Bears will live on to play another week and a new season begins.