The Bears (5-5) will look to snap a four-game losing streak Sunday night when they visit the Green Bay Packers (7-3) at Lambeau Field. Here are four storylines to watch in the game:
(1) How will Mitchell Trubisky perform in his first start since Sept. 27?
With Nick Foles unable to practice all week due to a hip injury, Trubisky has reclaimed the Bears' starting quarterback job for the first time since he was benched in the third quarter of a Week 3 win over the Falcons in Atlanta. Trubisky revealed Friday that he was blindsided by the move, but after a few days he changed his mindset and began to embrace his role in practice as the scout-team quarterback, helping the Bears defense prepare for its upcoming opponent—while also honing his own skills.
"I did feel during those few weeks that I got better as a player," Trubisky said, "just testing different throws, leading the offense and seeing a lot of good looks from our defense and going against them. It was tough. It was an adjustment, but I was always hopeful for another opportunity."
Trubisky will make his fourth start of the season and his 45th in four years with the Bears. Since being selected in the first round of the 2017 draft out of North Carolina, he has passed for 9,114 yards with 54 touchdowns, 32 interceptions and an 85.9 passer rating. This season Trubisky has thrown for 560 yards with six TDs, three interceptions and an 87.4 rating.
(2) Will the Bears offense finally show some signs of improvement?
Foles hasn't performed as well as expected. But like coach Matt Nagy often says, the quarterback generally receives too much credit when a team is winning and too much blame when it's losing. To that end, the Bears need better performances at all positions to awaken their sputtering offense, which has produced just nine touchdowns in its last seven games. The unit enters Week 12 ranked 31st in the NFL in scoring and total yards and 32nd in rushing yards and third-down efficiency.
The Bears hope the return of running back David Montgomery will provide a boost. The 2019 third-round pick from Iowa State missed the team's last game, a Nov. 16 Monday night loss to the Vikings, with a concussion he sustained a week earlier against the Titans. But the Bears have struggled to run the ball both with and without Montgomery on the field; they've averaged just 52.6 yards rushing over their last seven games after averaging 138.0 yards on the ground in their first three contests.
The Bears need their injury-decimated offensive line to step up against the Packers. Two veteran starters—left guard James Daniels and right tackle Bobby Massie—are on injured reserve, while a third—left tackle Charles Leno, Jr.—will be a game-time decision due to a toe injury.
(3) How will the Bears defense fare against star quarterback Aaron Rodgers?
The two-time NFL MVP and future Hall of Famer entered Week 12 with the highest all-time passer rating in league history at 103.1. Not only has Rodgers not slowed down as he approaches his 36th birthday next week, but he's playing arguably the best football of his career. This season he's thrown for 29 touchdowns and just four interceptions and leads the NFL with a 115.8 rating.
"He's playing at such a frigging high level right now," said defensive coordinator Chuck Pagano. "He doesn't miss; shots down the field, the dimes that he's dropping. The receivers are making plays and '17' (Davante Adams) is all-world right now. I mean, it's going to be a huge challenge for us to slow this group down. We are going to have to play really, really well."
Rodgers has won 16 of the last 18 games he's started and finished against the Bears and has thrown 26 touchdown passes and just two interceptions in his last 11 games versus Chicago. Eddie Jackson recorded one of those picks, preserving a division-clinching win over the Packers Dec. 16, 2018 at Soldier Field. Jackson is expected to start Sunday night after being activated off the reserve/COVID-19 list Friday.
Last season the Bears limited Rodgers to 203 yards in each of their two meetings, though Green Bay won both games 10-3 and 21-13.
(4) Will the Bears halt their losing streak and help reverse a negative trend?
History shows that Sunday night's game in Green Bay is an incredibly important one for the 5-5 Bears. Since 1990, 45.0 percent of NFL teams with 6-5 records have made the playoffs (59 of 131), while only 12.9 percent of 5-6 clubs have reached the postseason (18 of 139).
"This is an absolutely huge game for us," said defensive lineman Brent Urban. "If we hit this game, we have all the momentum in the world to keep it rolling. Coming off the bye, everybody's feeling great, ready to go. We've just got to get this one. This is our biggest game of the season."
With a win, the Bears would not only snap their four-game skid and climb to within one game of the first-place Packers, but they'd record their first victory in Green Bay since 2015. The Packers have won 17 of the last 20 overall meetings between the longtime rivals, beginning with a 21-14 win in the 2010 NFC Championship Game at Soldier Field.
"I just know that from the character of our players and the competitors they are," Nagy said, "that they are certainly not going to back down, and they will certainly be excited to get back out there and fight."