Despite another subpar defensive effort, Packers rout Bears and clinch homefield advantage
By Brian E Murphy, Packers Insider senior analyst
~It was another game in which the Packers were outgained by the other team. Another game in which the opposing QB and RB had their best games of the season, even career.
But it also was another game in which the defense came up with a few interceptions, and oh by the way, the Packer quarterback racked up a masterpiece with no interceptions. This time, Aaron Rodgers threw for his career-high of five touchdowns as the Packers eliminated the Chicago Bears fading playoff dreams with a 35-21 victory at Lambeau Field on Christmas night.
“Yeah, this one’s pretty special,” Rodgers said.
With the win, the Packers (14-1) claimed another round of bragging rights in the NFL’s most storied rivalry by knocking the Bears out of the playoff chase.
“We wanted the path to go through Lambeau,” Packers coach Mike McCarthy said. “Thirty-five points on that defense, that’s a good night,” McCarthy said.
Rodgers threw touchdown passes to tight end Jermichael Finley first, and then he threw a pair each to Jordy Nelson and James Jones. Rodgers didn’t seem to miss Jennings this time as he went 21-29 for 283 yards, to go along with his five touchdowns. It was another superb passer rating of 142.7, his highest ever against the Bears defense, who usually slow down Rodgers. As it stands now, Rodgers season passer rating is 122 and would break the all-time single-season record.
That was the good news, again.
Then there’s Dom Capers’ defense.
Other than Clay Matthews and Charles Woodson, the defense seems to lose their individual battles and it allowed the Bears backup RB’s to carve up the Packers for 199 yards rushing.
The Bears, led by third string quarterback Josh McCown, who was sitting on his couch just weeks ago retired, to rack up 441 yards, and covert on 6 of 12 third down conversions. The Bears averaged a fine 4.7 yards per rushing attempt, and 8.6 yards per pass. Overall, the Packers were outgained 441 to 363 yards, and the Bears controlled the clock with a 36 to 24 edge in time of possession.
Granted, the Packers were missing their key cog in the line in Ryan Pickett, and Howard Green was playing banged up as he was questionable on the injury report.
You will be hearing a lot about the Packers defense over the next 20 or so days entering their divisional playoff game. It will most likely be against a quarterback such as Matthew Stafford, Eli Manning, Tony Romo, or Matt Ryan.
All of those quarterbacks are much better than Orton, Freeman, and McCown.
Despite the poor effort on defense, the victory over the Bears gives the Packers a 14-1 record and clinches the number one seed in the NFC playoffs and means the Packers road to Indianapolis only goes through Lambeau Field and not Philly, Atlanta, and Chicago as last year.
That might or might not be a good thing, depending on the weather and opponent. But it’s definitely better than having to go to New Orleans to face Drew Brees in that place.
The Packers will now have an opportunity to rest banged up, or critical players next week as Detroit comes to town.
Anyone who’s been questionable or worse should sit and rest next week against the Lions
Combined with the bye week after it, that should allow most of them to be able to recharge their batteries and freshen up for the playoff divisional game on either January 14th or 15th, at Lambeau Field.