GREEN BAY—It's likely not a coincidence the Packers and Bears will meet this Sunday night in a game that, last season, changed the course of the season for the Packers.
The two teams met in a Monday night matchup on Nov. 4. The Packers were on a four-game winning streak and playing their best football of the season. Against their rival, this was expected to be a night of celebration. Then, the quarterback went down and everything changed. A month went by without the Packers claiming victory.
TV will no doubt play to that theme this Sunday night. The storyline will play to a Bears team desperate for a win that would pump new life into its season, against a Packers team bent on revenge for what happened a year ago. It's almost too schmaltzy a storyline to believe this game was scheduled with that in mind, but it probably was. Hey, we like schmaltzy, right?
Since that midseason game a year ago, the Packers and Bears have played twice, and the Packers have won twice. Most memorably, the Packers won in Chicago on the final day of the 2013 season, to claim the NFC North title on a dramatic, final-seconds touchdown pass from Aaron Rodgers, the injured quarterback, to Randall Cobb.
TV will no doubt play to that storyline, too.
Most recently, the Packers scored another win in Chicago, in Week 4. The Bears were coming off a big win. Their preseason hype was beginning to look prophetic, and then the Packers did it to the Bears again. The Packers continue to be the Bears' tormentor.
TV will also play to that storyline.
What's the real storyline?
This is a game filled with desperation for both teams. A loss would drop the Bears out of the division title race, probably even out of the playoffs race. Depending on what the Lions do against the Dolphins on Sunday afternoon, the Packers might need to win to avoid falling two games behind the Lions.
Here are 10 things the Packers have to do to beat the Bears.
1. Stop the run – The Packers didn't stop the run in the first game. They won by forcing turnovers.
2. Force turnovers – If you can't stop the run, this becomes a must.
3. Attack on offense – The Bears are coming off a game in which they allowed 51 points to the Patriots. That's an open invitation to attack.
4. Protect the quarterback – Just sayin'.
5. Deny big plays – The Packers secondary did a great job of that in the first meeting.
6. Spread the ball around – The Packers are starting to get a nice mix of receptions among their receiving corps. Jordy Nelson is at 50 catches, Randall Cobb is at 40 and rookie Davante Adams has emerged in recent weeks and has 24 catches.
7. Get it to Eddie Lacy – On the ground and in the air, too. He was devastating as a receiver in the New Orleans game.
8. Shift gears – The warm-weather games are over for a while. The next six weeks and seven of the final eight games are cold ball.
9. Break one – The Packers are close to doing that in the return game.
10. Keep an eye on the Lions – It's OK to do that. They're the rabbit now. Chase them all the way to Week 17.
ADDITIONAL COVERAGE - NOV. 6