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posted: 12/24/2013 3:37 PM

Packers always a challenge for Cutler, Bears

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  • Quarterback Jay Cutler and the Bears look to scramble their way into the playoffs with a victory Sunday over the Green Bay Packers.

      Quarterback Jay Cutler and the Bears look to scramble their way into the playoffs with a victory Sunday over the Green Bay Packers.
    Associated Press

 
 

If the Bears lose to the Packers on Sunday and don't make the playoffs, is coach Marc Trestman's first season a failure?

Maybe, maybe not.

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But if Trestman's team can bounce back from last week's disaster, his debut season would clearly be a success.

Just as clearly, Trestman's offense is the Bears' best, and maybe their only, chance to defeat Green Bay. The Bears need to score so many points that the Packers just can't keep up, with or without Aaron Rodgers at quarterback, and he is questionable at best.

The Bears probably need to score at least 28 points, although because of an especially bad defense that wouldn't have been enough to win any of their last three games. The defense has allowed at least 28 points seven times in 15 games.

The problem with that light-up-the-scoreboard scenario is that quarterback Jay Cutler has been a huge disappointment in eight career games against Green Bay. He has a 61.5 passer rating with 9 touchdown passes and 16 interceptions.

Cutler came back strong at Cleveland in his first start after missing four straight games while recovering from a high ankle sprain. But he failed to build on that momentum in the loss at Philadelphia.

"Personally, I'm not worried about it," said Cutler, who might be the only one who isn't concerned. "Offensively, we didn't play as well as we wanted to. A majority of that falls on my shoulders, (and) rightfully so. I've got to play better and in turn the rest of the guys will as well."

Good luck with that.

In three games against Green Bay over the previous two seasons (Josh McCown guided the 27-20 victory earlier this season), Cutler has a 52.4 passer rating and has been sacked 13 times while throwing 4 TD passes and 7 interceptions.

Another break for the Bears this week is the doubtful status of Packers sack master Clay Matthews.

Running back Matt Forte has had his difficulties against the Packers as well, averaging just 3.6 yards per carry in 10 career games and scoring just 2 touchdowns while averaging only 59 rushing yards per game. As a receiver, Forte has been only slightly more effective, with 4.3 catches per game, 40.6 receiving yards and no scores.

Forte is coming off the second-least-productive game of his season, but he believes if the offense gets back into rhythm this week they'll be playing in January.

"There's no excuse for what happened (against the Eagles), or what we didn't do," Forte said. "Nobody played well across the board. We need to execute better and we'll win (Sunday)."

Wide receiver Brandon Marshall? He has averaged 77.6 receiving yards and 5.6 catches in five career games vs. the Pack. In three career games, Alshon Jeffery has 6 catches for 67 yards.

Add it all up, and it's easy to see why the Packers have defeated the Bears six straight times when Rodgers starts and finishes the game. None of those 6 defeats have been closer than 7 points and 3 have been by double digits.

Still, considering how injuries have exacerbated season-long defensive struggles, the Bears really can't ask for a better opportunity than the one that will be presented in Week 17.

"As I said to the players, 'If we walked into the locker room in April (for) the first OTA and said we'd be playing for the NFC North (title) on the last day of the season, we would have taken it,'" Trestman said. "Now we've got that opportunity.

"We've got to have good amnesia. We've got to do the things we have to do to get ready for the Packers, and that's what we'll do."

The success or failure of an entire season depends on it.

rlegere@dailyherald.com

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