The Chicago Bears are gearing up to end their 2023 season on Sunday against the Green Bay Packers.
The Bears have been eliminated from playoff contention, but that doesn't mean there's nothing to play for. For starters, the team could play spoiler and keep the Packers out of the playoffs. Additionally, it would be nice for the team to end the season with another win and enter the offseason on a positive note.
This will also be the last chance for players to prove they deserve a spot on the team in 2024. Head coach Matt Eberflus would certainly like a win, as that could be the deciding factor on whether or not the coach returns in 2024.
Now, let's identify 3 things to watch for in this season finale.
Will the Chicago Bears be motivated to knock out the Packers?
With the playoffs out of reach, it would be reasonable to think many players would be checked out for the finale. However, I don't believe that will be the case for the Bears in Week 18.
The Bears have not beaten the Packers since 2018. With the chance to not only end that streak but keep the Packers out of the playoffs as well, I don't see lack of motivation being an issue. When the two teams squared off in September, the Packers came away with a 38-20 win. However, the Bears' defense has evolved over that time and is currently 12th in yards allowed per game. The Bears are also the best run defense in the league, so the tandem of Aaron Jones and AJ Dillon should be slowed down.
The Bears should have plenty of motivation to end their rival's season.
Can Justin Fields end on a high note?
In all likelihood, the Bears' decision regarding Justin Fields will not come down to one game. However, it would likely be harder to justify moving on from Fields if the QB has an amazing performance and knocks the Packers out of the playoffs.
Fields has been great of late, with his Week 17 performance against the Falcons likely being his most complete game of the season. It would behoove Fields to continue that momentum, regardless of if he sticks in Chicago or not.
Fields has just one game this year with 300+ passing yards. Hitting that number against a tough Packers' defense would help the QB head into the offseason feeling mighty positive- It could also help Ryan Poles make a decision on the QB position going forward.
Can the defense slow down Jordan Love?
The last time these teams played, Jordan Love had one of his most efficient NFL games. The QB threw for 245 yards, 3 touchdowns, and didn't turn the ball over. The Bears also only sacked the QB once, which is not a recipe for success.
If Love is allowed to get comfortable in the pocket again and make throws, it could be a long day for the Bears. However, as mentioned above, the Bears' defense has been much better of late. Eberflus would love nothing more than for his defense to have a monster showing in the last week of the season.
We don't know if Eberflus will be back in 2024. Like Fields, the decision likely won't be based around one game. However, you'd have to think it would help Eberflus' case if his defense keeps a hated rival out of the playoffs.