The NFL hasn't been the same without Aaron Rodgers.
Green Bay's quarterback has been out since Week 9, when he broke his collarbone in a Monday night game against the Bears. After weeks of seeing how it plays out, Rodgers is finally, really coming back, and at the most important time, too. The winner of Sunday's Packers-Bears game wins the NFC North and heads to the playoffs.
Thanks for the disappointment, Matt Flynn, Scott Tolzien, and Seneca Wallace, but Green Bay's prized player has returned. Football's a team sport, but that trio of backups was a predictable downgrade at the position, throwing for a total 2,002 yards, eight touchdowns and 10 interceptions. The Packers won two out of six games without Rodgers starting. In essentially seven games—he threw only two passes against Chicago before getting hurt—Rodgers threw for 2,218 yards, 15 touchdowns, and four picks. We'd like to show you Rodgers's effect through the line of this game, but for the past few weeks, books wouldn't open until the status of Rodgers was declared. You can see it here; after news broke of his return, the lines finally showed up. (Green Bay -3.)
(Update: In a picks column by Bill Simmons back in Week 10—go down to the Green Bay section—the line for Eagles-Packers went from Green Bay -10 to Green Bay -1 after Rodgers was injured. So, there's an example of that effect. Thanks, Ryan.)
Even with Rodgers back, the Packers still have a challenge. Chicago's underperformed—and last week's loss to the Eagles was ugly—but the Bears have a formidable offense with receiving weapons in Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery. Both teams have easily exploitable defenses, too, so regardless of the winner, the game should be entertaining.