The Bears will face the Packers on Sunday in a matchup to decide the NFC North. While both Jay Cutler and Aaron Rodgers have missed several games with injuries this season, the pair will square off in the most important game of the year. Rodgers will make his return from a broken collarbone on Sunday while Cutler's return to the Chicago lineup came last week during an absolute thrashing by the Eagles.
Cutler is undoubtedly facing heavy pressure coming off a win-and-in blowout loss against a NFC opponent. The Vanderbilt alum is also a pending free agent and has looked average in comparison to his backup Josh McCown this season. Head coach Marc Trestman did not hand pick Cutler and has yet to fully endorse him moving forward as "his guy." With all of that on top of the NFC title hopes of the Windy City, Cutler has a cocktail of scrutiny coming his way if the Bears fail to win the division.
Another one of Cutler's major issues heading into the game is that he has yet to really conquer the Packers in his career. The eighth-year quarterback is just 1-8 all-time against Green Bay. He compiled a 59.9 passer rating in those games and has thrown 17 interceptions against the Packers during his career.
Cutler's last elimination game against the Packers came in the 2011 NFC Championship Game. During the contest, Cutler completed 6-of-14 passes for 80 yards and an interception before being injured. He was replaced by Caleb Hanie, who actually kept Chicago in the game. The Packers ultimately won the NFC Championship and moved on to the Super Bowl, which they also won.
Cutler's regular season record against the Packers is even worse. In eight regular season games against Green Bay, Cutler has completed 131-of-257 passes for 1,702 yards, 9 touchdowns and 16 interceptions. He has twice thrown four interceptions in a game against the Packers and has posted three passer ratings of 43.5 or less. Cutler has posted an 82.5 passer rating or better against Green Bay just twice.
His best performance came in his first meeting against the Packers when he was with the Broncos. He completed 21-of-34 passes for 264 yards, one touchdown and a 95.7 passer rating. His only win came in 2010, when he thoroughly outperformed by Rodgers, winning 20-17. He has also missed two matchups between the teams during his career with the Bears due to injury.
While much is made of Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo's issues with big games, his record when facing elimination is strikingly similar to Cutler's history against the Packers. Both have only succeeded once in their endeavors with those scenarios. However, Romo is given bulk of the bad press for his failures, while Cutler's lack of success against the division opponent goes widely unacknowledged.
With Cutler's contract coming to a close and his backup playing so well in his absence, it is on the veteran passer to prove he is worth keeping in a division that features a team that has dominated him throughout his career. His opportunity to prove he belongs is on Sunday at Soldier Field.