When the NFL’s centennial season kicked off, it did so with the league’s oldest rivalry when the Bears hosted the Packers.
Fourteen weeks later, the age-old rivals will renew their feud with playoff possibilities on the line and frigid temperatures adding to the setting of what will be the 200th all-time meeting between the teams (including the postseason).
“It is something to look forward to, knowing it’s a rival, a classic rival at that,” Packers running back Aaron Jones told the media this week. “You know you’re gonna get their best shot; they’re gonna get ours.”
It’s a rivalry with more longevity than any other as the Bears and Packers will become the first teams to play each other on 200 occasions with Green Bay looking to add on to its 98-95-6 lead in the all-time series — a mark buoyed by the Pack winning six of the last seven, including this year’s season opener, 10-3.
“Green Bay and Chicago are two of the prestigious organizations in this business; high, top quality places to play,” said Bears defensive back Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, who began his career with the Packers. “I’m blessed to be able to play for both these organizations.”
For this game in particular, it’s very much a must-win for the Bears (7-6), who have a slim shot at returning to the playoffs a season after winning the NFC North, which is currently led by the Packers (10-3). Should Chicago lose and the Rams or Vikings win, the Bears will be eliminated from postseason contention. It’s a stark difference for the Packers, who can clinch a playoff spot with a victory coupled with a Rams defeat.
And, of course, there’s always a measure of bad blood.
“I would say there’s always a bit of animosity when it comes to playing that green jersey,” said Bears defensive lineman Akiem Hicks, who could potentially return from injury and play in the game.
As the current collections of Bears and Packers vie for postseason spots and look to make their own history, they are becoming a part of a rivalry steeped in tradition and success.
A look at seasons past, per NFL Research …
» The rivalry’s first game took place on Nov. 27, 1921 when the Chicago Staleys, on their way to an APFA Championship, defeated the Green Bay Packers, 20-0.
» The Bears and Packers are two of the remaining four franchises founded in the 1920s. The Decatur Staleys debuted in 1920 along with the Cardinals, while the Packers came to be in 1921 and the Giants followed in 1925.
» The Packers’ 13 NFL championships are the most all-time, while the Bears’ nine, including APFA titles, are second.
» The Bears’ 28 Pro Football Hall of Famers are more than any other franchise, with the Packers’ 25 in second.
With legends such as Walter Payton, Dick Butkus, Gale Sayers, Mike Ditka, Forrest Gregg, George Halas, Curly Lambeau, Vince Lombardi and others being unveiled as part of the NFL All-Time Team, the NFL’s longest rivalry writes its next chapter upon the frigid and hallowed Lambeau Field upon a December afternoon.
Said Packers offensive tackle Bryan Bulaga: “Should be nice, hopefully single-degree temperature out there. Classic NFL North Bears-Packers matchup.”