The Chicago Bears renew their historic rivalry with the Green Bay Packers on Sunday afternoon at Soldier Field. The Bears (3-9) are in the midst of a five-game losing streak that has them as one of the worst teams in the league. The Packers (4-8) aren't much better as both teams are essentially out of the playoff race with still more than a month to go.
Sunday's game probably means more in the draft standings than any divisional standings, but it's also a game that could swing history. The Bears have been the league's most winningest team since its inception and now, they're tied with the Packers with 786 wins a piece. A win for Green Bay means they take sole possession of first place in all-time victories.
If the Bears hope to win, they'll need to keep (most of) these players in check. Here are five Packers players we'll be watching in Week 13.
QB Aaron Rodgers
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When the Bears last saw Aaron Rodgers way back in Week 2, he and the Packers were still very much in the conversation to make a deep playoff run. Now nearly three months later, Green Bay is all but out of the postseason race and Rodgers is battered and bruised. Still, even though he's dealing with a rib injury, he's not planning on missing what could be his final game against the Bears. Rodgers has 2,689 passing yards with 21 touchdowns and nine interceptions.
He's on pace for his lowest quarterback rating in seven years and has surpassed a quarterback rating of over 100 just three times this season. One of those times was against the Bears. He always seems to have his best games against his rival and last year, made his sentiments known when he yelled "I own you" to the Soldier Field crowd. Rodgers is facing an abysmal Bears defense and could have another strong outing. Perhaps it's his last, though.
WR Christian Watson
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It took a while, but Packers rookie wide receiver Christian Watson is turning heads with his strong play as of late. The rookie out of South Dakota State struggled for much of the year with drops and injuries, but has found his groove over the last three weeks. He's scored all six touchdowns in the last three weeks and has seemingly earned the trust of Rodgers in the passing game with his impressive size and speed.
Watson was named the Offensive Rookie of the Month for November and will look to keep his hot streak of touchdowns going against the Bears. With Eddie Jackson out and Jaquan Brisker and Kyler Gordon's status' up in the air, he could be in line for another big day.
LB Quay Walker
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Watson has had an up-and-down season as a rookie and so has linebacker Quay Walker, the team's 2022 first-round pick. Walker leads the team in tackles with 93 total, 56 of which are solo and has forced two fumbles while recovering another, which happened recently during the Packers' 40-33 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles. But he was exposed as well, particularly in the running game.
The Packers were gashed last week by the Eagles on the ground, surrendering over 360 rushing yards. Walker had a few missed tackles that led to big gains, though he did notch double-digit tackles as well for the second game in a row. If Justin Fields is able to go, it could be another rough outing for him as the he and the Packers will try to contain the Bears' superb rushing attack.
LB Preston Smith
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The Packers pass rush took a major hit earlier this season when Rashan Gary was lost for the season with a torn ACL. That leaves veteran Preston Smith as the team's best option for sacking quarterback. Smith has 5.5 sacks on the season to go along with 42 total tackles. Two of his sacks have come in the last two weeks, indicating he might be on a bit of a hot streak.
Smith is now going up against a Bears offensive line that could be down to their third-string right tackle in Alex Leatherwood. If Fields misses the game as well, it's a dream scenario for the eighth-year pass rusher.
P Pat O'Donnell
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The prodigal son makes his long-awaited return to Soldier Field. Okay, maybe punter Pat O'Donnell isn't making a triumphant return to Soldier Field but it's still notable. O'Donnell spent eight seasons in Chicago before signing with the Packers in free agency and now comes back to the lakefront where he made seemingly hundred of punts after disappointing three-and-outs.
O'Donnell hasn't had to punt nearly as much as he did with the Bears, but he's still getting his work in as the Packers offense isn't as potent as it used to be. O'Donnell is also familiar with the wind tunnel that is Soldier Field better than anyone and if both offenses struggle, the game could come down to field position. The real question, however, is will fans boo or cheer O'Donnell when he takes the field for the first time? We'll wait with bated breath until Sunday afternoon.
Story originally appeared on Bears Wire