By Shawn Lealos
This year’s Thanksgiving games looked promising when the season started, but many of them have been a little less than desired as the season wore on. This week’s game looked to be a huge one as two classic NFC North rivals faced off, possibly with the division on the line. However, neither team has looked like world beaters. Until this past Sunday, neither were in the division lead. However, the Green Bay Packers look like they are turning things around while the Chicago Bears are falling off the map.
Green Bay Packers Needing to Rebound
Before they beat the Minnesota Vikings this past Sunday, the Green Bay Packers were reeling and falling out of playoff contention. After opening the season with a nice 6-0 record, the Packers had dropped three straight games and looked like things were falling apart. The Vikings moved into first place and the Packers looked like they were starting to pull away before Green Bay delivered a statement win over their NFC North rivals. A season sweep over the Bears, who they beat in the opening game of the season, would push them further into the playoff picture.
Eddie Lacy is Back
Fantasy football players know how much Eddie Lacy has struggled this season. Only twice this season had he ran for more than 50 yards and he had lost his starting job to James Starks. However, Lacy was playing hurt; and after sitting out to rest his groin injury, he returned against the Vikings on Sunday. Not only did Lacy return, but he took his starting job back, carried the ball a season high 22 times for his first 100 yard game of the season. If Lacy is back to health, that will make the Packers better as the season wears on.
A lot of criticism was leveled at Aaron Rodgers through the Packers’ three-game losing streak. While he had the worst game in memory in his loss to the Denver Broncos on Nov. 1, he rebounded by throwing for 702 yards in the next two games, both losses, while throwing six touchdowns and two interceptions. Really, Rodgers was not the reason the team was losing. In the Vikings win, he threw for 212 yards and two touchdowns, proving that sometimes less is more, and is still a quarterback that can win a championship in Green Bay.
While it is easy to look at Jay Cutler’s struggles against the Denver Broncos on Sunday and count that against him, remember that Rodgers had his worst game against that same defense. On the season, Cutler is in a rebound year with 13 touchdowns, only six interceptions and a nice 92.7 quarterback rating. He has done most of this without Alshon Jeffrey at 100 percent and that makes Cutler a quarterback who can win some games.
Jeremy Langford or Matt Forte
However, Cutler has had to win without his most valuable weapon in Matt Forte. Forte was lost with a knee injury, and while most thought he was out for the season, he might return on Thanksgiving against the Packers. Jeremy Langford has done well as a substitute, although he ran into a brick wall in the Broncos defense on Sunday. In the previous two games, Langford had a total of 324 total yards and three touchdowns. If Forte returns on Thursday, the Bears have two running backs that can really dominate this game.
Shawn S. Lealos is a freelance writer who graduated from the University of Oklahoma in 2000 with a Bachelor’s Degree in Journalism. He writes for a variety of national publications and has over 15 years of sports journalism experience. Follow Shawn on Twitter @sslealos. aExaminer.com.