Four days after their lopsided loss in Philadelphia, the Bears return to the practice field Thursday to prepare for Sunday's winner-take-all showdown against the Packers at Soldier Field.
The Bears (8-7) will enter the contest with a half-game lead over Green Bay (7-7-1) and would capture the NFC North championship with a win or tie against their longtime rivals.
Quarterback Jay Cutler will make his third straight start. Cutler has completed 63.1 percent of his passes for 2,395 yards with 17 touchdowns, 11 interceptions and an 88.1 passer rating this season.
|Jay Cutler and the Bears will look to win the NFC North title with a victory over the Packers.|
The Bears offense features two 1,000-yard receivers and one 1,000-yard rusher for only the second time in franchise history. Brandon Marshall has 94 receptions for 1,221 yards and 11 touchdowns, while Alshon Jeffery has caught 86 passes for 1,341 yards and seven TDs. They have combined for 2,578 yards, the most by any two teammates in the NFL.
Matt Forte ranks fourth in the NFL in rushing with 1,229 yards and seven touchdowns on 267 carries and is third in the league with 1,776 yards from scrimmage, having caught 70 passes for 547 yards and 2 TDs. The 70 receptions are the most ever by a Bears running back.
The Bears will face a Packers defense minus its best player in Pro Bowl linebacker Clay Matthews, who has been ruled out of the game after breaking his thumb for the second time this season in last Sunday's loss to the Steelers.
The Bears defense will look to rebound after permitting 514 total yards and six touchdowns in last Sunday night's embarrassing loss to the Eagles. The run defense ranks last in the NFL after yielding 289 yards in Philadelphia and is on pace to allow the most yards in franchise history.
The playing status of both Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers and running back Eddie Lacy is expected to be announced Thursday. Rodgers has been sidelined since breaking his collarbone Nov. 4 in a loss to the Bears, while Lacy is hampered by a sprained ankle. The Packers did not practice Wednesday, but if they had Lacy would have been unable to participate.
Since the NFL realigned into eight four-team divisions in 2002, the Bears and Packers have accounted for nine of the 11 NFC North championships. Chicago has won in 2005, 2006 and 2010, while Green Bay has claimed titles in 2002, 2003, 2004, 2007, 2011 and 2012.
The Bears will look to sweep the season series from the Packers for the first time since 2007 and just the third time since 1991. This year marks the first time since 1983 that the champion of the Bears' division will not record at least 10 wins.
In total yards, the Bears offense ranks 8th in the NFL (18th rushing and 5th passing), while the Packers defense ranks 26th (26th against the run and 21st versus the pass). The Bears defense is 29th overall (32nd against the run and 14th versus the pass, while the Packers offense is 4th (7th rushing and 8th passing).
ChicagoBears.com will provide all the latest Bears news throughout the week from Halas Hall. Coach Marc Trestman is scheduled to address the media Thursday and Friday. Cutler and offensive coordinator Aaron Kromer both will speak Thursday.