Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers don’t seem to be the Super Bowl contenders that many thought they were entering the 2016 NFL season. After losing big on Sunday, the team looks to right the ship just a few days later when they host the Chicago Bears on “Thursday Night Football” in Week 7.
Green Bay was embarrassed at Lambeau Field, losing by 14 points to the Dallas Cowboys. Dallas looks like one of the best teams in the NFC, and the Packers are hopeful that they can figure things out against maybe the conference’s worst team.
Chicago is tied for the NFC’s worst record at 1-5. They blew a 13-point, fourth-quarter lead to the Jacksonville Jaguars on Sunday, and they visit a Green Bay team that they’ve had trouble beating in the last few years.
The Bears were able to pull off the upset in the last meeting between the NFC North rivals, winning 17-13 at Lambeau Field. Prior to the contest, Green Bay had defeated Chicago in 10 of their last 11 tries.
Despite Sunday’s loss, the Packers enter the Week 7 game as heavy favorites. They are favored by nine points at Las Vegas and online sportsbooks, via OddsShark, though the betting line was once as high as 10 points. The over/under is 46.5.
Thursday’s game could largely be decided by the play of the quarterbacks, an area in which Green Bay is usually thought to have a significant advantage. But that might not be the case on Thursday, considering how Rodgers has played over the last year.
Rodgers posted a 90.8 passer rating against the Cowboys, but the numbers don’t exactly illustrate how much the quarterback struggled. He missed a few key throws that should have gone for Green Bay first downs, and he was thoroughly outplayed by rookie Dak Prescott.
Ever since November of last year, Rodgers has been mediocre at best. He’s posted a passer rating of 100.0 or better in just one of his last 17 games, and his 60.2 completion percentage in 2016 ranks 25th in the NFL. Twenty-six other signal callers are averaging more yards per attempt this season, and Rodgers is struggling even though he’s playing behind one of the league’s best offensive lines.
Three days before Thursday’s game, it’s unknown who will start at quarterback for the Bears. Brian Hoyer has gotten the call in place of the injured Jay Cutler since Week 3, but there’s a chance Chicago’s starter will be ready to return from his thumb injury in Week 7.
No matter who has been under center for the Bears in 2016, the team has had trouble scoring. Chicago’s 23 points in their Week 5 loss to the Indianapolis Colts was a season-high for the team, and Sunday marked the fifth time the Bears have scored 17 points or fewer.
Hoyer’s numbers have been good—he’s got a 100.8 passer rating with no interceptions, and he’s thrown for more than 300 yards in each start. It hasn’t translated into many points for Chicago, who ranks seventh in yards per game and dead last in scoring.
The Packers are the better team, and they should be able to take care of business at home, but nothing has been easy for them this year. None of their victories have come against a team with a winning record, and all three of those games were decided by one score. Thursday could be another close contest.
Prediction: Green Bay over Chicago, 24-19