Chicago Bears vs. Green Bay Packers: Storylines, prediction for a historic NFL rivalry

    What is our prediction for another edition of the Chicago Bears vs. Green Bay Packers matchup and what are the key storylines this week?

    What is our prediction for this Chicago Bears vs. Green Bay Packers matchup in Week 14 of the 2021 NFL season? Let’s examine the storylines that will shape this game, and what are the NFL odds for this Bears at Packers matchup?

    Chicago Bears vs. Green Bay Packers Prediction | Storylines for Week 14

    The 202nd edition of the NFL’s most-storied rivalry takes place on Sunday Night Football in Week 14. The history of this rivalry is full of games with major playoff implications, and this one is no different. You can call every game a “must-win” in the NFL, but this one really does fit the bill.

    If the Bears lose this game against the Packers, their season is over and their head coach’s time leading the franchise might very well be on borrowed time. A win keeps them alive for another week, with a series of games they could use to go on a run.

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    Meanwhile, the situation is different for the Packers because they have to keep the pressure on the Arizona Cardinals for the NFC’s No. 1 seed. With the Cardinals having a couple of tough games down the stretch, the Packers have the opportunity to jump them if they win out. Meanwhile, a loss would potentially drop the Packers back into the laps of the Buccaneers, Cowboys, and Rams.

    Those scenarios are part of the reason why this game between the Packers and Bears has not been flexed out of prime time, despite most predictions and the current odds having the Packers as the clear favorites. Let’s examine the other intriguing storylines that could shape this game.

    Will the return of Justin Fields inspire the Packers?

    It has been a frustrating few weeks for the Bears rookie QB. Justin Fields cracked some ribs in the game against the Ravens in Week 11 and was ruled out of the following two games. During that time, he had to sit and watch as the team limped to a 1-2 record and saw their playoff opportunity fade.

    The Bears have managed just 38 points in the last two games with Andy Dalton under center. Prior to their bye week, Fields seemed to have the Bears’ offense clicking, with 49 points scored across those two losses.

    Chicago will be hoping that Fields can inspire their offense. If he can, the Packers’ defense has looked vulnerable in the past two weeks. After a stretch where they allowed an average of 11.6 points per game across five weeks, they allowed a total of 62 points across the past two weeks.

    If Fields can get this offense into the 27-30 point region, they have a chance to upset any predictions for Bears vs. Green Bay on Sunday Night Football. It would be only the second time the Bears have scored 27 or more points this season, so it is a tough ask, especially coming off an injury.

    Can the Packers avoid a post-bye letdown game?

    A late-season bye week is often viewed as desirable, and for a Packers team struggling with injury, they likely feel that way. However, it is key with such a short run to the end of the season that they come off the bye firing.

    The record of teams coming off a bye this season makes this game between the Bears and Packers hard from a prediction standpoint. Teams coming off a bye in 2021 have had mixed success. They are 12-11-1 straight up and 10-13-1 against the spread. Those numbers tell you that coming off a bye has not been as easy as it seems — the Packers know this will likely not be easy, either.

    However, the record of teams coming off the bye in recent weeks has been better. Over the past three weeks, teams coming off a bye are 5-3, including wins for other playoff hopefuls in the Kansas City Chiefs and Arizona Cardinals. Those two victories last week demonstrate that good teams can win coming off a bye if they have their processes right.

    There are still injury question marks for the Packers coming off their bye. Davante Adams has a hamstring injury that had him limited at practice. Meanwhile, Aaron Rodgers and David Bakhtiari were absent from practice. Rodgers should play, but the Packers would have ideally hoped to have Bakhtiari back from his knee injury by now.

    The Bears need to reverse a one-way trend in this rivalry

    A victory in this game against the Packers might ultimately come to nothing in terms of the 2021 NFL playoff picture. However, for the Bears, there is a bigger picture at play this season with their historical record against the Packers. Overall, the Packers own a 102-95-6 record against the Bears, but in the last 10 years or so, it has been very much a one-sided rivalry.

    The Packers have won the last five straight between the sides and 10 of the past 11. If we go back to the 2008 season, the Packers have a 23-5 record, including the only playoff game between the two sides in that time. That is why this game is important for the Bears beyond the 2021 season. They need to start reversing this trend against their historic rivals and go into games between the two in 2022 knowing they can win.

    Bears vs. Packers betting line and game prediction

    • Spread: Packers -12.5 (odds courtesy of DraftKings sportsbook)
    • Moneyline: Bears +410, Packers -575
    • Total: 43

    It is really tough to see how the Bears can cause the upset here. They need Fields to be playing at the level he was playing entering their bye week. That is a tough ask for a young QB coming off cracked ribs, but the Bears’ season depends on it, and we are going to find out what the young QB is made of.

    The Packers’ defense looks set to get a boost this week with the return of Jaire Alexander. The defense has looked vulnerable in the past two weeks and his return should help the improvement. Nonetheless, if they struggle again, they will put the pressure on an offense struggling with injuries as well.

    If the Packers’ defense can restrict the Bears to around 20 points, this should be a comfortable victory for the Packers. However, if Fields and the Bears can get to around that 27-point mark for the second time this season, they will have every chance to spring a major surprise.

    Bears vs. Packers prediction: Packers 27, Bears 17

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