Eyeing best home mark since ’05, Bears expect ‘crazy’ Soldier Field vs. Packers
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Four questions as the Bears try to beat the Packers on Sunday to clinch the NFC North title:
Will Soldier Field be deafening again?
The Bears were wowed by their home-field advantage last Sunday against the Rams. They expect the same against the Packers.
‘‘It was amazing,’’ outside linebacker Khalil Mack said. ‘‘It was just what we needed at the right time of the year. We’re gonna need it again this week.’’
A victory would be the Bears’ seventh in eight regular-season home games, matching the number of Soldier Field victories they accrued in the previous three seasons combined. They haven’t won seven regular-season games at home since 2005.
Soldier Field debuted an air-raid siren against the Rams, and it figures to be used again. But the crowd noise stood out the most for cornerback Prince Amukamara.
‘‘We’re ready for the fans . . . to be just absolutely crazy again,’’ he said. ‘‘That was unbelievable, when you go back and you think about how loud they were and how much it helped us. And here’s another opportunity for our city and our fans to do the same thing.’’
Is Matt Nagy the NFL Coach of the Year?
Nagy took a step in that direction Friday, when a 10-person panel from the Associated Press voted that he had done the best coaching job in the NFL. He received seven of the 10 first-place votes.
‘‘When you hear something like that, especially as a head coach, it speaks to who we are,’’ Nagy said. “When you hear an award like that, you get humbled by it, you appreciate it, but it’s all about everybody in this building.’’
Mack said he appreciates what Nagy has accomplished.
‘‘A lot of it is the way he carries himself,’’ Mack said. ‘‘A real humble dude, easy to talk to. And that’s what you want to see when you have a guy who’s just zoned in, a guy who’s really personable and can relate to whatever it is you’re going through.’’
The NFL will reveal its Coach of the Year Award winner at the NFL Honors on the eve of the Super Bowl.
Halftime hot tip
The Packers, who are six-point underdogs, have covered in seven of the last 10 rivalry games. The over/under is 44.5 points; eight of the last 10 Bears-Packers games have gone over.
Keep it simple?
Quarterback Aaron Rodgers’ frustrations with former coach Mike McCarthy’s plays were well-documented. In his first game as the Packers’ play-caller, interim coach Joe Philbin made a decision: He’d give Rodgers a ‘‘sound and relatively clean’’ play early in the play clock, then let him be himself.
In the Packers’ victory against the Falcons, Rodgers posted a 103.1 passer rating — almost 24 points better than the previous week — and carried three times for a season-high 44 yards.
‘‘We’re fortunate that we have a quarterback who’s experienced and intelligent,’’ Philbin said. ‘‘He understands run-blocking schemes and protection schemes. And if, in fact, we need to make an adjustment to get us out of a bad play, he’s a great guy to have back there to do it for you. So it wasn’t like I had to do everything myself.’’
The Packers might lean on quick passing even more than usual. Right tackle Bryan Bulaga is doubtful to play because of a knee injury.
Did Prince crowdsource a celebration?
Last month, Amukamara was watching a local news show that asked fans to submit ideas for the Bears’ next celebration. Someone suggested doing a wedding bouquet toss.
Amukamara texted the idea to his fellow defensive backs, who approved. That’s how he wound up throwing the ball over his head and into a crowd of teammates after linebacker Roquan Smith’s first career interception Sunday.
It marked one of the Bears’ most memorable celebrations in a season filled with them.
‘‘Whoever did it, that person gets credit,’’ Amukamara said.