Last Sunday’s win over the Vikings means little if the Packers fail to take care of business on Thanksgiving night versus the 4-6 – yet still very competitive – Chicago Bears. Still not completely out of the playoff mix, one can be sure that John Fox and the Bears will come to Lambeau with victory in mind.
As they discovered during Week 1, the Packers must find ways to win outside of capitalizing on the turnovers of Jay Cutler, who has flourished (by his own standards) under offensive coordinator Adam Gase. In particular, the Packers run defense will need another dose of last week’s success to stop the Chicago ground game, which will see the return of Matt Forte to the starting lineup.
Central to stopping the run will be the performance of the defensive line, namely that of B.J. Raji and Mike Daniels. While the Bears offensive line is modest at best, the tandem of Forte and rookie Jeremy Langford could present challenges for a D-line that has allowed big performances to Todd Gurley and C.J. Anderson, in addition to a monster day by Forte during Week 1.
On offense, the Packers must establish the same rhythm that allowed the unit to score 30 points on the league’s 9th-ranked defense last week. With Eddie Lacy allegedly back to his old self, expect offensive coordinator Tom Clements to emphasize the run early and then use that momentum to open up the passing game.
With unfavorable weather conditions expected, a revival of the Green Bay passing game does not appear to be in store for Week 12. However, when the Packers do go to the air, it’s worth taking note of any improvement in communication between Aaron Rodgers and his receiving targets. With a number of top-notch pass defenses left on the schedule, Rodgers must find a way to establish better chemistry with Davante Adams, James Jones and, most importantly, Randall Cobb.
On a night where emotion will run high, expect the Packers to play with the same type of energy and rigor as they did last week against Minnesota. Having only lost once at home since the 2013 season (two weeks ago against Detroit), the Packers will look to preserve their dominance at Lambeau against their longest rival.
Prediction: Packers 30 Bears 23