Preview: Packers try to right ship, Bears look to continue progression
LAKE FOREST, Ill. — With three straight losses and Aaron Rodgers sidelined because of a broken right collarbone, things sure are looking bleak for Green Bay.
Even beating Chicago is hardly a given.
While the Packers come into Sunday’s game trying to find their footing with the superstar quarterback sidelined, the Bears are playing more like a respectable team.
“The standard is still the standard,” Packers cornerback Davon House said. “My eye is still on the Super Bowl, but we’ve got to make the playoffs first and we’ve got to beat Chicago first.
“If we don’t beat Chicago and we don’t start winning some of these division games, there is no playoffs. That’s as simple as that. As simple as that.”
The Packers (4-4) haven’t won since they pulled out a 35-31 victory at Dallas on a touchdown pass from Rodgers to Davante Adams in the closing seconds on Oct. 8.
A week later at Minnesota, the two-time MVP got driven hard to the turf by the Vikings’ Anthony Barr.
Rodgers fell on his throwing shoulder and left with an injury that could sideline him for the rest of the season.
With Brett Hundley taking over at quarterback, the Packers dropped that game 23-10 and have lost two more since then. That includes a 30-17 drubbing by Detroit on Monday night coming off a bye.
The Packers have tormented the Bears in recent years, taking seven of eight from them. They have won seven in a row at Soldier Field, including the 2010 NFC championship game.
They also pounded Chicago 35-14 at home on Sept. 28. But the Bears (3-5) have also undergone a few changes since then.
Chicago benched struggling quarterback Mike Glennon and turned to No. 2 overall draft pick Mitchell Trubisky after getting blown out by Green Bay. Since then, the Bears are 2-2.
With their defense leading the way, they put together back-to-back victories for the first time since 2015 before a loss at NFC South leader New Orleans.
After a week off, the Bears have a chance to exceed their win total from last season by beating Green Bay.
“I kind of feel like it’s a new season in a way,” Trubisky said. “The last few games are what they are but we have a great opportunity coming up next with this home game.”
Here are some things to know as the Packers try to stop their skid and the Bears go for their third win in four games:
MISSING RODGERS: The Packers are 3-7-1 in games Rodgers has missed since he became the starter in 2008. They’ll need more from Hundley if they’re going to improve on that record.
The third-year pro has thrown one touchdown and four interceptions in the past three games. He has also been sacked eight times.
Hundley was 26 of 38 for 245 yards with no interceptions against Detroit. But a late touchdown drive with the game in hand boosted those numbers.
TARGET DOWN: Last in the NFL in passing, the Bears will try to get their offense jumpstarted even though they are missing one of their few reliable targets.
Tight end Zach Miller is recovering from surgery to save his left leg after an injury at New Orleans, and that means bigger roles for Dion Sims, Adam Shaheen and Daniel Brown. Wide receiver Dontrelle Inman is available for the first time since the Bears acquired him from the Los Angeles Chargers on Oct. 25.
“He’s a veteran guy,” coach John Fox said. “He’s had opportunities to throw live with Mitch and the other quarterbacks. I think he’s got a good grasp of what we’re doing now and what’s expected of him.”
BENNETT GONE: The Packers waived tight end Martellus Bennett on Wednesday while citing a “failure to disclose a physical condition.” That could mean more opportunities for Lance Kendricks and Richard Rodgers, who each have had 50-reception seasons.
Kendricks has caught eight passes for 126 yards and one touchdown while Rodgers has caught four passes for 43 yards.
LINING UP: Besides dealing with a decimated group of wide receivers, Trubisky is playing behind a banged up line. Guard Kyle Long left the New Orleans game because of a finger injury and Cody Whitehair left with an elbow injury. Both players returned to practice this week.
UNDER PRESSURE: The Packers have been burned by Drew Brees and Matthew Stafford while dropping the past two games against New Orleans and Detroit. One reason for that: A lack of sacks.
The Packers have four in the past five games. And only one team has fewer sacks than Green Bay’s 13 on the season.
GREEN BAY (4-4) at CHICAGO (3-5)
Sunday, 1 p.m. ET, Fox
OPENING LINE — Bears by 3
RECORD VS. SPREAD — Packers 3-5, Bears 6-2
SERIES RECORD — Packers lead 95-94-6
LAST MEETING — Packers beat Bears 35-14, Sept. 28
LAST WEEK — Packers lost to Detroit 30-17; Bears had bye, lost to New Orleans 20-12 on Oct. 29
AP PRO32 RANKING — Packers No. 18, Bears No. 26
PACKERS OFFENSE — OVERALL (23), RUSH (21T), PASS (21)
PACKERS DEFENSE — OVERALL (25), RUSH (23), PASS (20)
BEARS OFFENSE — OVERALL (29), RUSH (6), PASS (32)
BEARS DEFENSE — OVERALL (8), RUSH (13), PASS (11)
STREAKS, STATS AND NOTES — Packers have dropped three straight — last two with QB Brett Hundley starting for Aaron Rodgers (broken right collarbone). … Green Bay has won seven of eight against Chicago. Packers have also won seven straight at Soldier Field, including 2010 NFC championship game. … Only one team has fewer sacks than Green Bay’s 13. … Hundley was 26 of 38 for 245 yards with no interceptions last week, though numbers looked better because of late touchdown drive. … RT Bryan Bulaga suffered season-ending knee injury on Monday night. … Packers waived TE Martellus Bennett on Wednesday. … RB Ty Montgomery ran for career-high 162 yards, two TDs at Chicago last December. … WR Jordy Nelson has 55 receptions for 629 yards, six TDs in past six games against Bears. … LB Blake Martinez fourth in NFL with 73 tackles. … Bears have matched win total from last season. Chicago is going for third win in four games. … Bears are 12-28 in 21/2 seasons under coach John Fox. … Rookie QB Mitchell Trubisky is 2-2 as starter, but rarely throws. … RB Jordan Howard ranks fifth in NFL with 662 yards rushing and is backed by big-play rookie Tarik Cohen. … WR Dontrelle Inman could make first appearance since Bears acquired him from Los Angeles Chargers on Oct. 25. … DE Akiem Hicks has seven sacks, five in past four games. … Fantasy Tip: Though he managed just 53 yards on 18 carries in the first meeting, Howard has rushed for more than 100 yards in two of past three games. He has had time to rest his shoulder, and Packers are vulnerable against run.