This hasn’t happened often in the last three decades or so, but the Packers might actually be just as much of a mess as the Bears when the teams meet at Soldier Field on Sunday.
They’re fresh off giving up 40 points and 363 yards rushing to the Eagles, and the loss dropped them to 4-8. As badly as this season has gone for the Bears, the Packers are only one game better.
Furthermore, Aaron Rodgers looks just about done. He was already staggering well below his typical play, then he left the Eagles game with a rib injury. Backup Jordan Love looked good and nearly left the Packers to a comeback, but coach Matt LaFleur said Monday he was “feeling better” and Rodgers said he expects to play against the Bears “as long as I check out fine.”
Bears quarterback Justin Fields could be thinking the same thing after missing the game against the Jets because of a separated left shoulder. Coach Matt Eberflus said Monday that Fields was improving, but the next checkpoint would be whether he’s able to practice in full when the team resumes Wednesday.
“It’s Packers week — certainly we will have more optimism and more excitement for those decisions,” Eberflus said. “But it will still come down to [whether] he’s ready. That’s going to come down to strength and mobility. If [he has those], he’s got a green light.”
So for all their maladies, it might be Fields versus Rodgers on Sunday for the fourth time — far more enticing than Love facing Trevor Siemian.
Rodgers is 3-0 so far, pushing his all-time record against the Bears to 24-5. The Bears haven’t beaten the Packers since 2018, and in the seven losses since, they’ve been outscored by 92 points.
It has been an embarrassment for the franchise.
“I grew up watching this game, and this game means a lot to me,” said tight end Cole Kmet, a lifelong Bears fan from Arlington Heights. “Regardless of where each team is at in the season, it’s a big game. It’s a good opportunity to… feel good about yourselves.”
He also hopes Rodgers plays.
“Bring it on,” Kmet said. “If we get an opportunity to go beat him, that would always be a good feeling.”
The Bears have their own issues in a rebuilding season, but seriously, how much disarray must the Packers be in for the Bears to beat them?
It’ll look absurd for the Packers to have a disaster season but still sweep the Bears — and the Bears potentially go winless in the division — after general manager Ryan Poles opened his tenure by vowing to “take the North and never give it back.”
By beating the Packers on Sunday, the Bears would assure them of their first losing season since 2018 and just their fifth during the run of having Brett Favre and Rodgers.
Little accomplishments mean a lot in a season like this.
Draft positioning is always a concern at this point in a lost season, but the Bears won’t mess that up if they win one or two more games. If they’re not looking for a quarterback, it won’t hurt them to slide back a spot or two. They’re probably picking in the top five either way.
Eberflus said the team is ascending despite drastically descending in the standings, and that’s true as long as Fields keeps advancing. It’s surely a weird time for Bears fans: All this team does is lose, yet there’s a prevailing sense that it’s on the right track for the first time in years.
Wins and losses generally aren’t that significant in a rebuilding season, but this week the outcome matters. The Bears need to produce some concrete evidence of their theoretical progress. And if Fields plays, they certainly have a shot.