Chicago Bears at Green Bay Packers (-7.5)
I was a little surprised at how easily the Cowboys ran the ball against Green Bay’s #1 ranked run defense this past Sunday. Unfortunately for the Bears, they do not have Ezekiel Elliott or the NFL’s best offensive line, so I expect the Packers to keep the Chicago running game, led by Jordan Howard and Ka’Deem Carey, in check. Howard did a good job against the Lions and Colts, but both of those teams have bad run defenses. Against Jacksonville, a decent defense, Howard averaged yards per carry. So, it’ll be up to QB Brian Hoyer, and move the ball he shall. Hoyer hasn’t been bad this season, and the Packers are currently allowing a 101.7 QB rating to opposing quarterbacks. Further compounding the issue, the Packers will be missing their top 3 cornerbacks in this game, which is very good news for the Bears and their passing game. The Packers will have to rely on their strong pass rush to make life difficult for Hoyer.
All this “what’s wrong with Aaron Rodgers” talk is getting annoying, but I think Rodgers is a huge douche, so that may be the reason. I may have to get used to it, because if he plays poorly tonight, the criticism will get worse. You have to like his chances against the Bears, who are missing a litany of starters in their front seven and secondary. However, even with all the injuries, coach John Fox has the defense playing hard, and as a result, they rank in the middle of the pack in both run (3.9 YPC average) and pass defense (7.3 YPA average). However, the Bears struggle to force turnovers, with only 4 interceptions and 2 fumble recoveries on the year. I’m sure Rodgers is placing an emphasis on taking care of the football this week. Like the Bears, the Packers will probably have to resort to moving the ball through the air, as they are starting Knile Davis, freshly acquired in a trade with the Chiefs, at running back.
Last week, I chickened out when I picked the Broncos to cover against the Chargers. This week? I think I have to again. Even if Rodgers doesn’t have an amazing game, he should still be able to sustain drives and tire out the Chicago defense. The Packers have a very good offensive line that will keep the pocket clean all evening. The Bears, like many teams with a bad record, have issues in the red area and often settle for field goals. That’s not an issue that gets fixed in 4 days.
Pick: Bears 20 Packers 28