By Chris Emma-
GREEN BAY, Wis. (CBS) — Throughout the course of a game week, players offer their best effort to avoid the dreaded bulletin board material.
Trash talk can emerge with the slip of a tongue. In Green Bay, the Packers worked diligently to avoid comment on their slipping rivals in Chicago. Rather than addressing the Bears’ problems, the Packers kept the comments focused on themselves.
“We’re really just focused on beating these guys and taking care of business at home,” Green Bay coach Mike McCarthy said.
Added Packers receiver Jordy Nelson: “We’re not worried about what they’re going to do, we need to go out and play football. We need to focus on each other.”
There’s no avoiding the reality of the situation. Green Bay is 5-3 on the season, squarely in the playoff mix. The Bears are 3-5, fresh off two straight defeats, with a myriad of issues at hand and in need a road upset at Lambeau Field on Sunday night to right the ship.
The one Packers player to acknowledge the obvious was the one who controls Sunday’s game the most: Aaron Rodgers.
“When you’re 3-5, there’s got to be a little desperation in there,” Rodgers said. “And we’re going to expect them to come in and play with that urgency the rivalry game allows you to play with.”
A win for Green Bay keeps it in line to run down Detroit (6-2) in the NFC North. At the very least, the Packers can deliver a knockout blow to the Bears.
Questioned about the scenario on several occasions, the Packers maintained their poise.
“We don’t pay attention to records,” Packers running back Eddie Lacy said. “We could lose any game. We could play a team with a really bad record and go into the game thinking because they don’t have a good record, it’s going to be an easy game, and we get upset. The guys here, we’re looking at it as a very, very tough game. We know they’re going to bring 100 percent. It’s not going to be easy.”
Above all, one important factor stands out for the Packers: At times this season, the Bears have played good football. Few saw Chicago going into San Francisco and pulling off the win. Victories over the Jets and Falcons showed what the Bears are capable of if they could just find consistency.
Chicago’s roster is made up of potential, with names like Jay Cutler, Matt Forte, Brandon Marshall and a cast of others. But inconsistency has trumped talent. The Bears haven’t clicked, but it could happen at any time.
“We know what they’re capable of doing,” Packers safety Micah Hyde said. “They’re a good football team, they have weapons. We’re not paying attention to their record or their last game, we know what they’re capable of.”
On the door leading from Green Bay’s locker room to Lambeau Field, a sign stands out. “Bears Week: Focus.” Such a mindset is ever present for the Packers.
“There are way, way too many games left, and too many scenarios,” Nelson said.
While the Packers don’t want to say it, they know what’s at hand. A win would inch them closer to the playoffs and bounce the Bears from contention.
Follow Chris on Twitter @CEmma670.