Packers beat Bears, clinch first playoff berth since 2016

The Green Bay Packers defeated the Chicago Bears for the 17th and final time of the 2010s on Sunday. The series between the two storied rivals was awfully lopsided this decade, with Green Bay taking 17 of the 21 matchups, including one postseason game (2010 NFC Championship). And the most recent edition of the Packers triumphing over the Bears was one step closer to winning a playoff spot for the first time in three years. After defeating Mitchell Trubisky and the Bears, Aaron Rodgers and the Packers waited for the Cowboys’ beatdown of the Rams to end which would subsequently guarantee a spot for the Packers in the 2019 NFC playoffs. Oh, and the Bears were eliminated from playoff contention. You just hate to see that.

After Sunday’s win over the Bears, the Packers ended the 2010s with a dominant 17-4 record against their nemeses from Illinois. Since Brett Favre joined the Packers in 1992, Green Bay has won 42 of its 57 meetings with Chicago.

Prior to the dismal 2017 and 2018 campaigns, the Packers had appeared in the playoffs in eight consecutive seasons. Only the New England Patriots can claim the same achievement in that timeframe. In fact, the 2009-2016 span was the longest playoff streak in Packers franchise history. Well, they’re back. And they just might get the number one seed and home field advantage throughout the postseason.

The 2019 Packers have earned a reputation of being ugly winners. Some will tell you that none of their eleven wins were particularly impressive, but I think those assertions are off-base, to a degree. Yes, the offense struggles most weeks, it seems, to step on the opponents’ throats. But five of the Packers’ wins have been by more than seven points. They have held teams to under 17 points five times, something last year’s team did just twice.

I agree that Green Bay has not demonstrated that they will be a force in the playoffs. They will likely have to play against the 49ers, Seahawks, Saints, or Vikings in January. All of those teams have legitimate odds to win the Super Bowl. If the Packers are going to win their fourth NFC title, they aren’t going to do so easily. We have seen this team’s weaknesses all year; they can’t cover over the middle of the field, and they don’t have a legitimate number two wide receiver. Could those flaws do them in during the playoffs? Maybe. But maybe not.

Part of what makes football great is the clichĂ© any given Sunday. The Packers were thoroughly dominated by the 49ers during the regular season. But who’s to say they can’t change their fortunes in the postseason? We saw the 2010 Packers win their playoff spot in week 17, then go on a tear by winning three road games including one against the 13-3 top-seeded Atlanta Falcons.

The 2019 Packers team has not looked like your typical 11-3 team. But the fact is that they are 11-3 and they control much of their destiny. If Green Bay can defeat the Vikings and Lions, they will secure at least a first-round bye and the two seed. If they win out and the 49ers lose to either the Rams or Seahawks, the Packers will win the top seed in the NFC.

When Aaron Rodgers is under center, the Packers always have a chance. But they are going to need Aaron Rodgers to channel is old self down the stretch if they are going to bring a 14th title to Titletown. The offense performs best when Aaron Jones gets the ball. The numbers all back that up. But it’s the other Aaron that is still the key to the team’s success. Rodgers wasn’t sharp against the Bears on Sunday, but he didn’t need to be. When the team goes against the conference’s best, it will be on Rodgers to win games for the green and gold.

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