The Green Bay offense is in a funk. Aaron Rodgers hasn't looked like his former MVP self as the Packers have limped into second place in the NFC North. Fortunately for the Packers, a Thursday Night Football showdown with the 1-5 Bears could be just the thing to jump start a formerly explosive passing attack.
Green Bay may be 3-2, but a pair of convincing defeats to division leaders Minnesota and Dallas have thrown a wrench in the team's postseason plans. A once-mighty offense has fallen to mediocre, as Rodgers has been unable to take advantage of a host of weapons and a mostly healthy depth chart. The five-time Pro Bowler has posted the lowest passer rating of his career as a starter while throwing for an inefficient 6.5 yards per pass attempt. For reference, he's trailing prolific quarterbacks like Trevor Siemian and Cody Kessler in both statistics, and Case Keenum and Blake Bortles in the latter.
The Packers have been unable to balance out Rodgers' unsteady play with a bruising ground game. Eddie Lacy and James Starks have struggled with injuries as Green Bay has scored only two rushing touchdowns this fall.
The team is taking steps to shore up that deficiency. They traded for Kansas City backup Knile Davis on Tuesday, though the fourth-year veteran may not add much more than depth. The former Arkansas Razorback has failed to live up to the potential he showed in college and has gained just 3.3 yards per carry in his NFL career. He has only one carry in 2016. It lost 2 yards.
Chicago, on the other hand, has gotten strong quarterback play from an unlikely source. Backup Brian Hoyer has been the league's third-most accurate passer after completing nearly 69 percent of his attempts since taking over for an injured Jay Cutler. He's been prolific in his last four starts, throwing for nearly 330 yards per game for a team with few explosive offensive weapons aside from wideout Alshon Jeffery. Only three teams in the NFL have gained more yards through the air than Hoyer's Bears.
However, his efficient passing has failed to lead his team to the end zone, and that lack of scoring has Chicago mired at 1-5. The Bears are 31st in a league of 32 teams when it comes to scoring and have bested only a lowly Jets team this fall. That's especially surprising when you consider the team is ranked seventh when it comes to offensive yardage. As Jeffery noted, this team isn't scoring touchdowns, and it's killing them.
Hoyer would have to make history to lead his team to the postseason. Since 1990, only one other team has come back from a 1-5 start to rally to the playoffs -- the 2015 Kansas City Chiefs. The Bears are at the bottom of the NFC North, but beating Green Bay in a hostile environment in prime time would make a statement to the rest of the league.
How to watch Chicago Bears vs. Green Bay Packers
Time: 8:25 p.m. ET
Place: Lambeau Field, Green Bay, Wisc.
TV: CBS, NFL Network
Announcers: Jim Nantz, Phil Simms, Tracy Wolfson