GREEN BAY, Wis. — There’s a grittier, more workmanlike feel to Round 2 of Bears-Packers this week compared to their glitzy, nationally televised season opener.
The stakes are higher as they approach a clash Sunday at Lambeau Field with both teams desperately needing the game. The Packers are still fighting off the Vikings for the NFC North lead and vying for a first-round bye, and the 7-6 Bears are one loss away from their playoff hopes collapsing.
“We know it’s going to be a tough-ass game,” Green Bay coach Matt LaFleur said Wednesday morning. “And we better get our minds right, our bodies right and ready to go.”
Both teams have taken drastically different courses since the Packers’ 10-3 victory at Soldier Field to kick off the NFL’s 100th season.
The Packers’ defense has rarely looked as good as it did that night, but they’ve rolled to 10-3 as Aaron Rodgers continues to light it up. He has 23 touchdown passes against two interceptions this season.
The Bears spiraled to 4-6 and looked like their season was shot, but had a potential breakthrough in the win over Dallas last week. There are various playoff scenarios for them, but their most plausible route to the postseason is to win out and get a little help.
“We’ve got a really good football team coming in here,” LaFleur said. “This is a critical game for both of us in terms of how we progress through the season.”