GREEN BAY – Sometimes the NFL just works out like this.
Like sending the Packers back out on the road in a rivalry to face the top rushing offense and (probably) top rushing quarterback in the league one week after allowing 363 rushing yards and 157 to the QB in Philadelphia.
Or like sending quarterback Aaron Rodgers back to the venue where just a year ago he claimed "ownership" of said rival, only now he's as physically banged up as he was the last time he lost at Soldier Field, when playing all of 2018 on a bad knee.
Packers-Bears in Chicago anyone? It always matters, even when the two teams are a combined 7-17.
Let's take one convergence of factors at a time.
Regarding the Bears' top-ranked rushing offense, quarterback Justin Fields and running backs David Montgomery and Khalil Herbert have collectively posted 14 touchdowns and more than 2,000 yards on the ground through 12 games in 2022.
Herbert is currently on injured reserve but Fields returned to a full participant in practice Thursday and Friday after missing last week's game with a shoulder injury. He was removed from the injury report, so the Bears won't be all that compromised in their efforts to run the ball.
Chicago certainly watched how Eagles QB Jalen Hurts and running back Miles Sanders piled up massive yardage against the Packers last Sunday, and they're going to make Green Bay stop the run in an effort to beat Head Coach Matt LaFleur for the first time in eight meetings. Even before they became as run-oriented at quarterback as they are now, the Bears stayed committed to the run back in Week 2 at Lambeau Field when down two and three scores in the second half.
"We'd be foolish not to plan for Justin, because if you don't you will get gutted," LaFleur said earlier this week of the Packers' approach regarding Fields, whose 834 rushing yards lead all QBs, with two monster rushing games (178 at Miami, 147 at Detroit, with three rushing TDs total) coming in November.
"You can't give this guy a sliver of light, otherwise he will make you pay."
The Packers are out for some redemption on defense, a unit that has shown good and rough stretches throughout the season but had very little to feel good about in Philly, where the Eagles scored 40 points with 500 total yards.
"To be honest, when you have a showing where you don't play how you want to play, it don't matter who you play," safety Adrian Amos said. "You just want to get back out and play and show something else."
Meanwhile, the Soldier Field faithful want to see Rodgers do something other than beat them. His win in Chicago in the 2010 NFC title game began a 10-1 stretch for him on the road in this rivalry, which in part prompted his "own you" outburst caught by TV cameras and microphones in the end zone after scrambling for a TD last year.
"I'm sure those fans will remember that," LaFleur said. "It pours a little gasoline on the fire, so to speak."
Rodgers' run of success includes fourth-and-8 from the 48 in 2013, coming back from a broken collarbone, to win the NFC North, and a third-and-long heave to Jordy Nelson to set up a walk-off field goal and keep "run the table" going in 2016.
He admitted moments and memories like that are motivating as he fights to keep playing right now through a broken throwing thumb and injured ribs with the Packers' playoff hopes barely hanging by a thread.
"For sure," he said. "It was back in 2013 and still is today in 2022."
Rodgers' only loss at Soldier Field in his last 11 games there came with that bad knee in '18, which he originally injured against the Bears at Lambeau back in Week 1 that year.
That injury was kept rather quiet, but his current ailments are widely known, and Rodgers is planning for the fans to rib him (sorry) with quips and taunts as much as they can.
"I've been hearing it from fans for 15 years down there," he said, "so I don't expect anything to be different."