Three things to love from Packers’ win over Bears in Week 17

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Zach Kruse
·4 min read
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The Green Bay Packers accomplished another goal on the 2020 checklist, securing the No. 1 seed in the NFC with a 35-16 win over the Chicago Bears in the season finale on Sunday.

The 13-3 Packers will now get a first-round bye and a home playoff game in the NFC Divisional Round. For 37-year-old quarterback Aaron Rodgers, who has never played in an NFC Championship Game at home, getting the top seed and the potential opportunity to play at Lambeau Field for a trip to the Super Bowl is a big, big deal. He’s been on the losing end of three-straight NFC title games away from Green Bay.

Now, the road to Super Bowl LV goes through Lambeau Field, where temps are guaranteed to be cold and the weather unpredictable. It’s a setting where the Packers believe they have a major advantage, especially against many of the potential contenders in the NFC.

Here are three other things to love from the Packers’ win:

More offensive efficiency, dominance

Dan Powers/USA TODAY NETWORK-Wisconsin

The Packers ran only 44 plays and had just seven total possessions on offense (not including the final possession of the first half with zero plays), but still scored 35 points on five touchdown drives. For comparison's sake, the Bears ran 74 plays but scored just one touchdown and 16 total points. Aaron Rodgers completed 79.2 percent of his passes, averaged 10.0 yards per attempt and threw four touchdown passes, and he lost a likely fifth touchdown pass on a deep drop by Marquez Valdes-Scantling that took away sure-fire points and eventually resulted in a punt to start the second half. The Packers offense dominated to end the game, producing an impressive 12-play, 76-yard touchdown drive to go up 28-16 and a game-sealing touchdown march after Adrian Amos' late interception. The offense, elite all season, was dominant again despite limited opportunities. If the Packers get to the Super Bowl, it will likely be because the offense is elite for at least two more games.

Adversity defense

Dan Powers/USA TODAY NETWORK-Wisconsin

The Packers aren't a consistently dominant defense, but they've found ways to get important stops during important moments. On Sunday, Mike Pettine's group held the Bears to field goals following a fumbled punt return in the first half and then again after a 53-yard completion to Darnell Mooney in the second half. The Bears created big plays and had terrific opportunities to score seven points, but the Packers got stops and prevented game-changing touchdowns. Later, the defense provided the game's pivotal play by stopping the Bears on 4th-and-1 from the 25-yard line, halting a potential go-ahead scoring drive and allowing the Packers offense to take over the final part of the contest. A defense that can handle adversity moments and get stops in the red zone is more than enough when combined with the elite productivity and efficiency of the Packers offense.

Offensive line holds up without Bakhtiari

Photo by Mike De Sisti / Milwaukee Journal Sentinel via USA TODAY NETWORK

Losing Pro Bowl left tackle David Bakhtiari just three days before facing Khalil Mack and the Bears front could have been a game-changing moment, but the Packers depth and versatility along the offensive line showed up once again. While certainly not a perfect performance in pass protection, Aaron Rodgers took just one sack and was under pressure on just eight of 26 dropbacks. The run game even churned out some tough yards late, helping the Packers close out the win. When Rodgers is kept clean, the Packers passing game borders on unstoppable. According to Pro Football Focus, Rodgers completed 77.1 percent of his passes and had a NFL-best 129.7 passer rating from clean pockets in 2020. Sunday in Chicago was a strong first step and a confidence-building performance in a post-Bakhtiari world for the Packers. Now, can the offensive tackle duo of Billy Turner and Rick Wagner keep it together for a couple more games? The Packers' Super Bowl hopes may depend on it.