When breaking down the Week 17 matchup between the Bears and the Packers, Sunday Night Football’s Chris Simms uttered words no one expected to hear this season.
“It’s weird, because it doesn’t even feel right coming out of mouth,” Simms told NBC Sports Chicago. “But I’m actually more concerned about the Bears defense in this game than I am about the Bears offense. The Bears offense has been like this (Simms said while gesturing that they’re trending up) ever since they played the Green Bay Packers the last time around. Even in that game the first time around, even though it was a blowout, there were some encouraging signs on the offensive side of the football.
“I feel like they’ll be able to move the ball and put up some points, show the balance that we’ve seen. Green Bay’s defense is good, not great. It’s not dominant. The offense is going to be fine.”
Certainly a strange concept for anyone who’s followed the Bears recently, but it gets even stranger.
“The Bears defense is leaking oil right now. It has not been very good over the last month. The run defense, teams are running on you. This is another thing that I can’t believe is going to come out of my mouth… this Packers run game has gone to a new level since the last time they played. It’s no longer Aaron Rodgers and the pass game, and when you over play the pass they run the ball. They have now become a team where you go, ‘Wait, we know they’re going to run the ball, they’re still running the ball, and they’re running for big numbers.’ They’re now being able to physically impose their will on people in the run game. That’s where I worry about the Bears.”
Starting with their matchup against the Bears in Week 12, the Packers have averaged a whopping 176 rushing yards per game, while only throwing for 219.8 yards per game. Compare that to their previous 10 games when they averaged 115.9 yards on the ground and 277 yards through the air. That’s the type of offense Bears fans have feared throughout Rodgers’ career.
This identity shift in Green Bay leads into arguably the strangest thing Simms suggested when analyzing the Bears - Packers matchup.
“If I’m the Bears and Chuck Pagano, Aaron Rodgers is the MVP of football, but I think you’ve got to go all-in to stop the run game,” Simms said. “You’ve got to stop something in this game. It can’t be like the first game where you go, ‘Oh we’re going to try to stop a little of the run game, and a little of the pass game.’ You’re going to stop nothing if that’s the approach you’re going to take. My two cents is stop that run game.
“I know Aaron Rodgers is dangerous, but you’ve got to pick one or the other… If I’m Chicago I’m going to air on stopping the run game, because if you don’t stop that then the play actions and boots are going to be wide open, and Aaron Rodgers is going to tear you up and score 40 points.”
If Rodgers and Packers do score 40 or more points, that spells trouble. Since 2010, Rodgers and the Packers are 21-0 when they cross the 40-point threshold. So no matter how they do it, the Bears are going to have to find a way to keep the Packers off the board to give themselves the best shot to win.