The NFL has put a great deal of stock in its oldest rivalry throughout the last decade, but Sunday’s latest entry in the series between the Green Bay Packers and Chicago Bears will feature something it hasn’t in a long time at Lambeau Field: a noon kickoff.
The Packers (10-3) will host the Bears (7-6) outside of prime time in Green Bay for the first time since 2008 after playing eight consecutive night games in their annual showdown. The NFC North rivals have clashed at Lambeau Field four times on Thursday night and once more on Monday night during that span with the only non-night start coming at 3:15 p.m. in 2010.
The Packers prevailed 10-3 over the Bears during their Week 1 matchup at Soldier Field that kicked off the NFL’s 100th season, getting revenge on the reigning division champions after losing in Chicago late last season. But both teams will have plenty of motivation to come out on top in this Sunday’s rematch, as Green Bay continues its campaign for a first-round bye in the playoffs while Chicago tries to keep its postseason dreams alive with a late surge.
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That 2008 Noon Kickoff was Aaron Rodgers’ First vs. the Bears
While it might sound outlandish, the last time the Packers hosted the Bears for a noon kickoff at Lambeau Field was Aaron Rodgers’ first-ever performance against his team’s top rival.
Coming into the game with a 4-5 record, the Packers watched as a crisp, collected Rodgers went 23-for-30 passing with 227 yards, two touchdowns and an interception to lead them to a 37-3 victory. The Packers offensive line also provided him with great protection and kept the Bears from taking him down after giving up four sacks in each of their last two games.
In general, Rodgers has said he favors playing games at noon, as broadcasters will never allow you to forget whenever you’re watching the Packers on TV. Easy enough to understand why the talking point gets recirculated, though, when you consider Green Bay has won all five of its games in the time slot this year, including four at Lambeau Field.
Rodgers’ History Against Bears Still Daunting
While Chicago got revenge for Rodgers’ debut later in the 2008 season, winning 20-17 at Soldier Field, Rodgers has a remarkable history against the Bears that includes a 17-5 record in his 22 career games against them, counting the playoffs. One of the losses, too, came after Rodgers exited the game with a broken collarbone in 2013.
Throughout his career, Rodgers has completed 66.9 percent of his 472 passes against the Bears for 5,359 yards and 46 touchdowns to outdo his production against the Minnesota Vikings — the only other team Rodgers has faced as many times. The Bears have also sacked him 20 fewer times than the Vikings have in their career matchups with the two-time MVP.
“I just know how much it means to the fans and it’s two storied franchises and two great places to play,” Rodgers said Wednesday of historically performing well in the rivalry. “We’ve got arguably the most iconic place to play in the NFL and Soldier Field is a pretty great place to play, too. There have been a lot of memories over the years, great games, great teams in that stadium, and I’m fortunate to have played a number of games down there. Played some fun ones down there, had some success down there and had some fun ones here as well. It’s a great rivalry. It’s nothing you can really put your finger on. It just means a lot and sometimes those type of environments can bring out the best of you.”