Our Pledge To You

Bears

‘We hate the Packers’ — Bears can strike blow in rivalry by clinching NFC North

The Bears know what they can accomplish Sunday: If they beat the Packers at Soldier Field, they’d clinch their first NFC North title in eight years.

“It’ll mean a lot,” rookie wide receiver Anthony Miller said Tuesday. “It’s something this city hasn’t seen for a while. And we’re just bringing that back. We’re bringing that winning mentality back. The train’s just not gonna stop running.”

Even a rookie knows the depth of the rivalry, and what it means to fans and players alike.

“We hate the Packers,” Miller said. “I know the fans, they hate them, as well. When we go out there, it’s going to be like a playoff environment. It doesn’t matter what their record is. I think it’s just gonna be a huge game.”

Packers receivers Geronimo Allison catches a touchdown pass in front of the Bears' Kyle Fuller in Week 1. | Jeffrey Phelps/AP photo

Packers receivers Geronimo Allison catches a touchdown pass in front of the Bears' Kyle Fuller in Week 1. | Jeffrey Phelps/AP photo

Five days out, the Bears are already thinking that way.

“It’s big,” defensive lineman Akiem Hicks said. “The thing about the atmosphere: We got a chance to clinch this thing at home? In front of our fans?

“It’s going to be a big deal. There’s no way to approach this game without saying it’s going to be a big deal.”

The Bears can clinch the division with a win — or a Vikings loss — at any point the rest of the season. If they win Sunday, it’ll be the first time the Bears have clinched the division at home since 2006.

RELATED
First-and-10: Bears can exorcise some demons vs. Packers
• The right Mattitude: Why a Packers tryout remains important to Bears’ Matt Nagy

They won’t get a bye in the playoffs unless they win out and the Rams lose two of their last three. That’s unlikely, given the Rams’ last three opponents: the Eagles at home, the Cardinals on the road and the 49ers at home. So the Bears figure to host a wild-card game.

They were thrilled by their home-field advantage Sunday night against the Rams. The game operations department concocted ways to keep Bears fans loud, blaring an air-raid siren before every Rams offensive play. To try to spook the Californians, they updated the weather — and wind chill — reports throughout the game.

The fans, coach Matt Nagy said, were “absolutely just freaking awesome.”

“They brought it,” Nagy said, “so we appreciate that.”

Against the Packers, though, the stadium will “probably be louder,” Miller said.

“I hope it’s the same,” inside linebacker Nick Kwiatkoski said. “They were great, honestly. Just the energy, especially on defense. But as a whole team, we feed off that energy. We can feel when it affects offenses. Anytime we can get that, it’s awesome.”