Dionne Miller`s `Happening in Halas` - December 26 - KMSP-TV

Dionne Miller`s `Happening in Halas` - December 26

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CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) -

Aaron Rodgers hasn't played since being knocked out of week 9 against the Bears, but his broken collar bone apparently healed enough for him to start the final game of the season knowing the loser heads straight into the off-season.

"He's been in the same offense for a very long time, and he's been practicing for the last couple weeks, so I expect Aaron to come back and play pretty sharply," Jay Cutler said about the quarterback he'll square off against.

Rodgers has done that over the last 11 games against the Bears. Rodgers is 8 and 3.

Cutler versus the Packers is another story and not a pretty one. 1-7 all-time and 16 Interceptions in 8 games.

Cutler was asked what may have led to the struggles and he gruffly pointed out, "We weren't good on offense."

Pointing out the obvious wasn't really intended to be as snarky as it came out. It's a fact. No one can deny it.

And though Rodgers made a first quarter exit during the first meeting, it was Josh McCown running this Bears offense effectively that snapped a 6-game skid to the Packers and gave the Bears the edge to play this game with a chance for the division title.

"We were able to have some success throwing the ball early and that allowed us to have some balance," Marc Trestman reflected Thursday.

Cutler echoed the sentiment, saying, "We attacked them, I thought, really well. We had a good game plan then and we have a good game plan now, we just have to execute."

You can lump that into what went horribly wrong in Philadelphia.

But it does sound like Cutler is feeling confidence in the improvements the offense has made. And they all know, with Rodgers, the best defense against Rodgers is keeping the Bears offense on the field.

Back when Cutler made his return in the week before facing the Browns, he said it was one of the tougher weeks he's had. But today, denied feeling any extra pressure facing the team's biggest rival, with the playoffs and his future in the balance.

"There's always pressure," Cutler said. "That week against Cleveland was a different animal, but the pressure to win is there every week...we can't make it more than what it is."

Ok, I get that. But come on, seriously? Loser goes home for the year. Done. And speculation begins instantly about his future. I don't know about you, but I'd rather prolong that at least a week and let it begin in the shadow of a playoff game or maybe even two.

But the Rodgers challenge is obviously greater for the defense that continues to be inconsistent. I looked back today. Only 5 players have started every game this season. It's tough to be a cohesive unit when there has been so many changes. It's not an excuse for poor tackling and lack of fundamentals, but certainly something to be noted. Starting the rookies at linebacker has been out of necessity. They're learning on the job, so I guess it's gone as well as can be expected.

Rodgers is likely salivating. So is Eddie Lacy. The Packers running back Eddie Lacy, who rushed for 150 yards versus the Bears at Lambeau, did not practice today, but Mike McCarthy said he expects Lacy to play Sunday. Perhaps they feel Lacy--even at 80%--is worth putting out there against the league's worst run defense.

Wow, I'm tired of this defense carrying that tag line.

Odds and Ends: The Bears ran individual drills outside then headed inside as the field became muddy and a little dangerous for player safety. Too bad that can't be reality Sunday at Soldier Field...just close the roof if it gets cold. An always freezing girl can dream, right?

Injury Notes: Earl Bennett has been excused from practice dealing with a very personal matter at home in Texas. Marc Trestman said he's day-to-day and they've left it up to him to decide what he wants to do heading into the game. Moments later the Bears signed wide receiver Chris Williams from the Saints practice squad. Still unclear what Earl will decide to do for the season finale.

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