The Green Bay Packers will have their No. 1 quarterback in the lineup when they visit the Chicago Bears in a showdown for the NFC North title on Sunday but definitely will be without their defensive leader. Green Bay, which is seeking its third straight division crown, learned Thursday that Aaron Rodgers was cleared to return from a broken collarbone - an injury that had kept the star signal-caller sidelined for the past seven-plus games. Ironically, Rodgers was injured in the early stages of the Packers' 27-20 home loss to Chicago on Nov. 4.
Green Bay, which has gone 2-5-1 without Rodgers - including the loss to the Bears, will not have Clay Matthews on the field as the linebacker has been ruled out with a right thumb injury suffered in last week's loss to Pittsburgh. Chicago looks to recover from an embarrassing 54-11 defeat at Philadelphia that prevented it from clinching the division. The Bears trailed 21-0 after one quarter and were down by 30 points before finding the end zone on the final play of the third period.
TV: 4:25 p.m. ET, Fox. LINE: Packers -3. O/U: 53.
ABOUT THE PACKERS (7-7-1): In addition to Rodgers, Green Bay could regain the services of Randall Cobb. The wide receiver has been on the shelf since suffering a broken leg against Baltimore in Week 6 but nearly made his return last week. Eddie Lacy's status also is uncertain after the rookie running back, who has scored four touchdowns while averaging 96.7 yards over his last three games, injured his ankle against Pittsburgh.
ABOUT THE BEARS (8-7): Jay Cutler has not fared well against the Packers in his career, posting a 1-8 record that includes a loss in the NFC championship game three seasons ago. The quarterback did not play in the first meeting this season due to a groin injury. Chicago must find a way to stop Green Bay's rushing attack, as the Bears rank last in the league with an average of 161.5 yards allowed on the ground.
1. The Packers have won seven of the last nine meetings between the division rivals, including a 21-13 decision in the most recent encounter at Soldier Field.
2. Matt Flynn made four consecutive starts for Green Bay while Rodgers was sidelined.
3. Lacy gained a career-best 150 yards against Chicago in the first meeting between the clubs this season.
PREDICTION: Packers 27, Bears 24