Resilient Packers stay in hunt

SPORTSBEAT
Greg Ceilley • REVIEW SPORTS EDITOR

A resilient Green Bay Packer football team probably saved its playoff hopes with a 23-16 win over the arch-rival Chicago Bears Sunday afternoon.

The Packers deserve a lot of credit for earning this key win. Their offense struggled at times but made crucial plays when needed. Green Bay’s running game and defense against the run were the keys to the Packers’ win.

The Packers’ defense, which has struggled stopping the run this season, held a strong Bears’ ground game to only 55 yards. Green Bay gained an impressive 155 yards rushing against a stout defense.

Also crucial was the quarterback play. In a match-up of young, inexperienced QBs, I thought the Packers’ Brett Hundley outplayed rookie Mitchell Trubisky. Hundley had his best game of the season – running the offense effectively, showing good poise and making key completions.

The Bears had a supposed advantage going into the game – coming off a bye week while the Packers had a short week to prepare for Chicago after last Monday night’s game against Detroit. The Green and Gold were much sharper than Chicago and it paid off.

Chicago had several players missing due to injuries but can’t use that as an excuse because the Packers also had many players sidelined with injuries.

With so much parity in the NFC this season, the Packers have a legitimate shot at the playoffs. The Packers, who snapped a three-game losing streak, are 5-4 and two games behind the Minnesota Vikings (7-2) who lead the North Division. It will probably take at least nine victories to earn a wild-card berth and 10-11 to win the North.

The Packers’ schedule appears to be less difficult than the Vikings’ does, but of course games aren’t won on paper. Detroit is also in the hunt for the North crown at 5-4 and has only two teams left on its schedule who currently have winning records (Green Bay and Minnesota which the Lions play once each).

The division title may not be decided until the final week of the regular season when Green Bay plays at Detroit, and the Vikings host Chicago. The Bears could play spoiler in the North title race as they play Detroit twice and Minnesota once.

The Packers need to have the same sense of urgency that they had versus Chicago on Sunday the rest of the season to remain in the race for a playoff berth.


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