SNF: Chicago at Green Bay

Published on Dec. 25 at 3:15 p.m. Eastern.

By Brian Edwards

Coming off its first loss of the season, Green Bay (13-1 straight up, 9-5 against the spread) will be in bounce-back mode for the first time since last December when it hosts arch-rival Chicago on Christmas night at Lambeau Field.

As of Sunday afternoon, most books were listing the Packers as 11 ½-point favorites with a total of 42. Gamblers can take Chicago (7-7 SU, 7-7 ATS) on the money line for a lucrative plus-425 return (risk $100 to win $425).

Mike McCarthy’s squad saw its 19-game winning streak snapped in last week’s 19-14 loss at Kansas City as an 11-point road ‘chalk.’ The 33 combined points easily stayed ‘under’ the 46-point total, as Green Bay was held to its lowest scoring output of the year (24 was the previous low).

Lovie Smith’s team has unfortunately seen its season unravel due to injuries. The Bears were in the process of improving to 7-3 in the fourth quarter of a 31-20 home win over San Diego on Nov. 20. However, when Jay Cutler threw an interception, he broke his thumb trying to make a tackle.

Since then, Chicago has been anemic offensively while losing four in a row both SU and ATS, including last week’s 38-14 home loss to Seattle. With back-up QB Caleb Hanie throwing nine interceptions compared to just three touchdown passes, Smith will turn to veteran journeyman Josh McCown to make his first start for the organization.

McCown, who is playing for his seventh different team, has a 35/39 career touchdown-to-interception ratio. He is making his first start since 2007.

Injuries have impacted Chicago’s offense at running back as well. Matt Forte, who was enjoying a monster campaign, went down with an MCL sprain in a Week 13 loss to Kansas City. Forte had already rushed for 997 yards and three TDs, in addition to making 52 catches for 490 yards and one score.

His replacement Mario Barber made costly mistakes in a loss at Denver, but he’s still a very capable back with loads of experience. However, a calf injury will keep him ‘out’ at Green Bay. Furthermore, two of the Bears’ best players, WR Devin Hester and LB Lance Briggs, are dealing with sprained ankles. Hester is going to play but Briggs is going to be a game-time decision (as of late Sunday afternoon).

The Packers are also dealing with injuries, as three offensive tackles are ‘out’ vs. the Bears. Derek Sherrod was lost for the season with a broken leg last week, while Chad Clifton (hamstring) and Bryan Bulaga (knee) have been ruled ‘out’ Sunday.

Aaron Rodgers is also going to be without his favorite target in WR Greg Jennings, who has nine TD catches. Jennings will most likely miss the rest of the regular season, but he’s expected to return for the playoffs.

Speaking of the postseason, Green Bay will clinch homefield throughout the playoffs with a win or a San Francisco loss a Seattle.

For the season, Rodgers has put up MVP-like numbers, throwing 40 TD passes compared to only six interceptions. He has 4,360 passing yards.

Green Bay is unbeaten in six home games, compiling a 5-1 spread record. In eight games as double-digit favorites (home and away), the Packers are 4-4 versus the number.

As for the Bears, they have gone 3-4 in seven games as underdogs. This is their first spot as double-digit puppies.

When these teams met at Soldier Field on Sept. 25, Green Bay captured a 27-17 win as a four-point road favorite. Rodgers threw for 297 yards and three TDs, as the Packers improved to 6-2 ATS in their last eight games against the Bears.

The ‘over’ is 9-5 overall for the Packers, 5-1 in their home games. Meanwhile, the Bears have watched the ‘over’ go 8-6 overall, but the ‘under’ is 4-2 in their six road assignments. The ‘under’ has cashed in eight consecutive head-to-head meetings between these bitter division rivals.

NBC will have the telecast at 8:30 p.m. Eastern.

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