The 8-4 Bears have a big game against the 11-1 Rams on Sunday, big enough that the NFL changed it to a night game.
The 4-7-1 Packers are dealing with the perception that quarterback Aaron Rodgers had coach Mike McCarthy fired over the weekend. They play the 4-8 Falcons on Sunday in an unremarkable matchup of underachievers.
Green Bay’s interim coach, Joe Philbin, fired associate head coach Winston Moss on Tuesday, hours after Moss tweeted about accountability, especially as it relates to Rodgers:
“Ponder this … what Championship teams have … great leadership! Period! It’s not the offensive guru trend, it’s not the safe trend. Find somebody that is going to hold #12 and everybody in this building to a #LombardiStandard! Period! #losingsucks!”
Meanwhile, Bears quarterback Mitch Trubisky and coach Matt Nagy seem to be best buds. If they were to give each other the same Life is Good T-shirt for Christmas, no one would be surprised.
Bears up, Packers down.
What planet have I been dropped on? Why is the footing so uneven? This is a role reversal so abrupt, so unnatural that people on both sides of the Illinois-Wisconsin border are dealing with whiplash-type symptoms.
The Bears used to be the team dressed in turmoil, drama and despair. It was a wardrobe of defeat, taken from the pages of the French fashion magazine L. So it has been great fun to see them shed those clothes after four straight miserable seasons and put on the apparel of a winner.
Great fun but also a tad strange. And to see the archrival Packers don the Bears’ hand-me-downs? Very odd.
Since 1992, there have only been two seasons in which the Bears were good and the Packers were bad at the same time. Two years in which Bears fans could cackle at their neighbors to the north – 2005, when the Bears went 11-5 and the Packers went 4-12; and 2008, when the Bears went 9-7 and the Pack 6-10.
In the last 26 seasons, Green Bay finished above .500 21 times and went 8-8 two other times.
In the same span, the Bears were above .500 eight times and went 8-8 twice.
The Packers finished 7-9 last season, but that probably was because a broken collarbone limited Rodgers to seven games. Before that, you have to go back to the aforementioned 2008 season, Rodgers’ first as a starter, for the Packers’ next most-recent losing season.
So you can understand the disorientation and the hallucinatory feel around here. This probably merits mentioning again: One team is 8-4, and the other is 4-7-1.
Chicago is worried about Trubisky’s injured right shoulder, though both he and the Bears think he’ll be able to play Sunday.
Wisconsin is worried about who the next Packers coach will be and whether Rodgers, one of the best quarterbacks in NFL history, will be able to get along with him. And is there enough time to build around a 35-year-old QB still near the top of his game?
The Bears’ starting quarterback used to be Jay Cutler, who was a favorite of Packers defensive backs and a magnet for controversy. Now some are painting Rodgers as a diva who pushed to have his coach removed. That planet I couldn’t identify earlier? It’s Bearzarro World.
Green Bay had a terrible loss at home Sunday against Arizona, which had entered the game 2-9. It led to McCarthy’s firing and to criticism of Rodgers from former Packers tight end Mark Chmura.
“Aaron’s not going to come out of this looking good,” Chmura said in an interview with ESPN Wisconsin. “Aaron might be happy, but Aaron, to me, looks like the prima-donna basketball player in theNBAthat wants his coach fired.”
The last time the Packers had this kind of controversy was at the messy end of Brett Favre’s time in Green Bay, when he retired, un-retired and finally went to the Jets via a trade. The Packers had wanted to move on with young, skilled quarterback named … Aaron Rodgers.
So here we are, with down now being up, and up being down.
Then again, the Packers did beat the Bears in Week 1, with Rodgers doing the kind of thing he does, returning from a first-half knee injury and helping his team overcome a 20-0 deficit in a 24-23 victory. He found a receiver for a 75-yard touchdown play in the closing minutes. That felt familiar.
The two teams meet again Dec. 16 at Soldier Field. Afterward, no matter what happens, the Bears will be the team with the winning record, the Packers the team with the losing record.