The 7-9 Chicago Bears will finish the year on the road against the 8-8 Green Bay Packers. For the Packers, the divisional game serves as a win-and-in for the postseason, while the Bears are already eliminated from the playoffs.
However, the Bears are looking not only to upset their rival and play spoiler but to finish their climb in the second half of the season on a strong note. For inspiration on why this game matters, look back to the Detroit Lions from a season ago, who were in essentially the same situation.
After starting the year 1-6, the Lions finished the season 9-8, including a week 18 win to keep the Packers out of the playoffs despite already being eliminated. Now, the Bears have an opportunity to enjoy a similar outcome and enter the offseason with two first-round picks and plenty of cap space to make the roster even more competitive in 2024. However, to earn one more win this season, it will be important for the Bears to accomplish the following three keys to victory:
The Chicago Bears Offense Needs to Set the Tone at the Line of Scrimmage
Sunday may be the last time quarterback Justin Fields suits up for the Chicago Bears, but he will certainly try to end the season with one of his better performances to make general manager Ryan Poles' decision at the top of the 2024 NFL Draft even more difficult. Fields has been playing some of his best football as of late, following his 200 goal - recording two touchdowns alongside zero sacks and zero interceptions.
To accomplish this goal on the road and ultimately earn a win, the offense will need to establish their identity at the line of scrimmage, which will be tough against a blossoming Green Bay defense. Through 16 games, Green Bay's rush defense is one of five units to allow over 130 rushing yards per game, but over the past three weeks, the group has decreased that figure to just over 87 yards, the eighth-best in the league over that span.
Green Bay's defensive front is feeling themselves, and rightfully so. Led by defensive tackle Kenny Clark and edge rusher Rashan Gary, the Packers have six first-round picks in their front seven, and the group is playing their best ball heading into the final week of the season.
For the Bears offense to be productive, it will be imperative to establish the ground game and keep Fields upright in the passing game. The offensive line has been playing physically recently, and Sunday is a good opportunity for players such as Darnell Wright and Teven Jenkins to set the tone up front.