Rodgers Is Following in the Footsteps of Starr and Favre When Playing the Bears

Bob FoxContributor IDecember 27, 2013

CHICAGO, IL - JANUARY 23:  Quarterback Aaron Rodgers #12 of the Green Bay Packers runs the ball ahead of Julius Peppers #90 of the Chicago Bears in the NFC Championship Game at Soldier Field on January 23, 2011 in Chicago, Illinois.  (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
Andy Lyons/Getty Images

Aaron Rodgers of the Green Bay Packers has been performing exceptionally against the Chicago Bears over his career, as he is 8-3 against the Monsters of the Midway in the regular-season and 1-0 in the postseason.

This is a trend, first started by Bart Starr and continued by Brett Favre. Starr was 15-5 versus da Bears in his career, while Favre went 22-10.

That means that Starr, Favre and Rodgers are a combined 45-18 against the Bears. The overall series, which dates back to 1921, has the Bears holding a slight 92-87-6 advantage in the regular-season. Both teams have each won a postseason game versus the other.

If you do a little math, the Packers would be significantly down 74-42-6 without the great play of No. 15, No. 4 and No. 12.

It stands to reason that the Packers would be thrilled if Rodgers would be available to play in the winner-takes-all game this Sunday at Soldier Field. The victor wins the NFC North and gets to host a playoff game, while the loser goes home with nothing.

Rodgers has missed eight games since fracturing his clavicle on November 4 against these same Bears at Lambeau Field. Before his injury, the Packers were 5-2 and on a roll. Since then the team has gone 2-5-1 without Rodgers behind center.

NFL Game Rewind

Yesterday, Rodgers talked about how great it feels to be back on the field with his teammates again, via

I'm excited to be back with the team. I mean, this is a fun day for me, but I think the focus needs to be on this game and the opportunity we have.

This is the first round of the playoffs for us. [We] have the opportunity to achieve our first goal, which is the division every year. That means you get to host a home playoff game – regardless of your record. Obviously, it's right in front of us. It's crystal clear. It's Chicago at Chicago with a chance to win a division.

Before he was injured, Rodgers had thrown 15 touchdown passes versus four interceptions for 2,218 yards in seven games. His quarterback rating was 108.

That makes sense given Rodgers is the highest-ranked quarterback in NFL history (regular-season), with a 105.2 mark, as he has thrown an astonishing 186 touchdowns compared to just 50 picks for 23,879 yards over his career.

Trying to excel on the field after suffering a serious injury is very difficult, especially playing against a long-standing rival like the Bears. Rodgers will attempt to that on Sunday, just like Starr and Favre did before him.

In 1967, the last season that Packers played under legendary coach Vince Lombardi, Starr had been playing hurt all season, suffering from multiple injuries, especially one with his throwing shoulder. But as the season wore on, Starr got healthier and so did the play of the Pack.

Starr led the Packers into Wrigley Field (the previous home of the Bears) in late November with a chance to clinch the NFL Central division. Starr was as efficient as always, as he threw for 202 yards and a touchdown. The Packers won 17-13 that day, and went on to win their third straight NFL championship.

Overall, Starr led the Packers to five NFL titles in seven seasons, including the first two Super Bowls.

Except for one NFC Central title in 1972, the Packers went without winning their division for over 20 years. That all changed when Favre became a Packer in 1992.

In 1995, Favre suffered a badly sprained ankle against the Minnesota Vikings on the road. It looked like there would be no chance that Favre would be able to play against the Bears the upcoming week at Lambeau Field.

12 Nov 1995: Brett Favre #4 of the Green Bay Packers drops back to pass the ball during a game against the Chicago Bears at the Lambeau Field in Green Bay, Wisconsin. The Packers defeated the Bears 35-28. Mandatory Credit: Jonathan Daniel  /Allsport
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

Not only did Favre play, but he was brilliant, throwing five touchdown passes without a pick for 336 yards to beat the Bears 35-28. That game may have been the best game of Favre's great 16-year career in Green Bay. And that's saying something.

The Packers went on to win the NFC Central that year, and Favre went on to win his first of three consecutive NFL MVP awards. In his career with the Pack, Favre led Green Bay to seven NFC Central/North titles and also a victory in Super Bowl XXXI.

Rodgers has already shown that he plays well against the Bears. In the eleven regular-season games he has played against Chicago, he has thrown 19 touchdown passes compared to just six picks for 2,513 yards. That adds up to a sparkling 102.7 quarterback rating.

Plus, there's the 21-14 victory against the Bears at Soldier Field in the 2010 NFC Championship Game.

Like Starr and Favre before him, Rodgers is going to need help from his teammates to secure a win against the Bears. Rodgers will need his offensive line to protect him from harm's way, as well as opening holes for running backs Eddie Lacy and James Starks against the NFL's worst run defense.

The Bears are giving up a whopping 161.5 yards a game on the ground. In the game versus the Bears earlier this season when Rodgers was injured, Lacy and Starks combined for 190 yards and two touchdowns.

That type of production has to continue this Sunday.

Before the injury to Rodgers, the Packers were very productive, both offensively and defensively. They were ranked second in total offense and 11th in total defense before their first meeting with the Bears.

Currently, the Packers are surprisingly still fourth in total offense, primarily due to a potent running attack.

The stat that has fallen the most is Green Bay's difficulty in stopping the run, similar to the sorry situation with the Bears. Before the first game with Chicago, the Packers were ranked fourth in the NFL in run defense. Now the team is ranked 26th in that category.

Losing a NFL MVP and a Super Bowl MVP like Rodgers will cause a team to go into a funk in a number of phases of the game. The Packers know that well after these past eight weeks, although backup quarterback Matt Flynn has steadied the ship somewhat upon his return to Green Bay.

But now Rodgers is back, and history says that he will perform well against the Bears, just like his predecessors did in the past.

At stake is the NFC North title and a chance to move on to the postseason, where Rodgers has also played very well.

CANTON, OH - AUGUST 3:  Pro Football Hall of Famer (Class of 1977) Bart Starr waves to the crowd as he is introduced during the 2003 NFL Hall of Fame Induction ceremony on August 3, 2003 in Canton, Ohio.  (Photo by David Maxwell/Getty Images)
David Maxwell/Getty Images

In the playoffs, there has never been anyone better than Starr, who was 9-1 and has the best overall quarterback rating of 104.8 in the postseason.

Rodgers is ranked third in that category with a rating of 103.6, while Favre is 13th with a 86.3 rating.

Combined, Starr, Favre and Rodgers have won seven NFL titles and four Super Bowls.

They also knew how to beat the Bears, as evidenced by their dominant victory total versus Chicago.



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