With their dreams of a perfect season snuffed out, it’s no secret what the Green Bay Packers want for Christmas – home-field advantage throughout the NFC playoffs. The Packers can achieve that goal by snuffing out the reeling Chicago Bears on Sunday night – or it already may be settled by the time they wake up Christmas morning if the Seattle Seahawks can knock off the San Francisco 49ers on Saturday. Should the Niners lose, Green Bay will secure the No. 1 overall seed and Packers coach Mike McCarthy will have the luxury of resting some of his key players. That’s an option McCarthy would love to have after watching top wide receiver Greg Jennings and starting RT Bryan Bulaga sidelined the past two weeks with knee injuries.
TV: TSN, NBC, 8:20 p.m. ET. LINE: Packers -13.4, O/U 45
ABOUT THE BEARS (7-7): Chicago has gone belly up since QB Jay Cutler suffered a broken thumb, absorbing four consecutive losses to put its postseason hopes on life support. The Bears finally pulled the plug on Caleb Hanie, who looked overmatched in his four-game stint. He had two interceptions returned for TDs last week as Seattle scored 31 unanswered points in a 38-14 win. In a desperate measure, the Bears will start Josh McCown, who was coaching at the high school level last month and last started in the United Football League last year. McCown hasn’t started an NFL game since 2007, and his task won’t be any easier with RB Matt Forte sitting out a third straight game.
ABOUT THE PACKERS (13-1): With Jennings out of the lineup, Aaron Rodgers had his roughest game of the season in Sunday’s 19-14 loss at Kansas City. He failed to throw multiple TD passes for the first time this season, completed fewer than half his passes and his 235 passing yards were a season low. It also represented the fewest points scored by Green Bay since a 10-3 victory over Chicago in the 2010 regular-season finale. The running game should get a boost with the expected turn of James Starks, who has sat out the last two games with an ankle injury. Ryan Grant rushed for 151 yards while Starks was out, but he had a total of only 22 carries in the two games.
1. The Packers have beaten the Bears three straight, including a 21-14 win in last season’s NFC title game and a 27-17 victory earlier this season. The last two have been in Chicago.
2. McCown has appeared in 48 games with five different teams. He has thrown 35 TD passes and 41 interceptions in his career.
3. Rodgers broke the franchise record with his 40th TD pass last week, becoming the fifth player in NFL history to reach that milestone.
PREDICTION: Packers 27, Bears 13. Green Bay sews up the No. 1 seed by beating Chicago at home for the fourth straight time.
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