Since Mike McCarthy took over as head coach in Green Bay, the games between the Packers and Bears have exhibited an element of weirdness; Sunday’s win-and-in game at Soldier Field was no different. Aaron Rodgers was less-than-spectacular in his first game back since early November but a late touchdown throw to Randall Cobb sealed the deal for Green Bay and stamped their ticket to the playoffs. The Packers have looked far from a playoff team of late but could ride momentum into their playoff game versus the Forty-Niners, who have beaten Green Bay in their last three meetings.
With the exception of a tipped pass that was intercepted early in the game, Nelson was the definition of reliable in Rodgers’s return. Nelson hauled in a number of crucial third-down conversions as well as a season-saving fourth-down pass on the Packers’ final drive. The chemistry between Rodgers and Nelson is clear and, with the return of Randall Cobb, defenses will not be able to double-team Nelson as often.
The Packers wanted to be conservative with Eddie Lacy one week after the rookie tailback injured his ankle. Such decision left the door open for the rebirth of James Starks at Soldier Field, who had been a hero in the Packers’ 2010 playoff victory in Chicago during his rookie season. Starks is making a strong bid to stay in Green Bay after his contract expires this offseason, though the team’s sudden abundance of quality runners suggests a departure.
Despite playing for a new contract, nose tackle B.J. Raji was practically invisible versus the Chicago running game. But Matt Forte’s big day was also a product of the late decision to sit linebacker, Brad Jones, who was replaced by the promising yet raw Jamari Lattimore. The Packers can only hope that they have Jones back when the run-first Forty-Niners come to Green Bay in the first round of the playoffs this coming weekend.
Lacy and Starks were forced to work for every yard against one of the league’s worst run defenses on Sunday. Lacy was only able to amass 66 yards on 21 carries largely due to the inability of both offensive tackles to seal the edge on sweeps. One would expect improvement out of David Bakhtiari as he becomes a more season player.