The Chicago Bears haven't been able to beat the Green Bay Packers with quarterback Jay Cutler or linebacker Lance Briggs on the field in recent years.
Considering the way the Packers have played of late, doing so minus both would appear to present an even greater challenge this year.
Prepared to play without two of their leaders, the Bears try to end a six-game losing streak to their archrivals and deny the Packers a fifth consecutive victory Monday night at Lambeau Field.
Including the NFC championship game during the 2010 season, Green Bay (5-2) has won six in a row against Chicago (4-3) and five straight meetings at Lambeau. Aaron Rodgers is 9-2 against the Bears and has completed 69.6 percent of his passes while throwing 12 touchdowns and two interceptions in the last four matchups.
The Packers have also won 11 straight home games including playoffs. During that streak, they've allowed an average of 14.7 points, and in the last five of those contests have yielded three field goals and no touchdowns in the first half.
None of that would seem to bode well for Chicago, which has lost three of four and comes off its bye set to play without Cutler due to a groin injury suffered during a 45-41 loss at Washington on Oct. 20. Though originally expected to be sidelined at least four weeks, Cutler hopes to return sooner but is unlikely for Monday.
Briggs will miss more than a month with a shoulder injury suffered in the same game.
"We really have to play together more than ever now," coach Marc Trestman said. "And I think that's something that we're capable of doing."
Despite those injuries and Chicago's recent struggles this season and in the series, the Packers won't take anything for granted.
"We need to prepare and stay focused on our opponent and the changes they've made," coach Mike McCarthy told the Packers' official website. "At the end of the week, we want to make sure we're focused on winning and that our quality of play is as high as possible."
Veteran backup Josh McCown is set to make his first start since going 1-1 in Chicago's final two games of 2011. His first start that year came in a 35-21 loss at Green Bay on Christmas Day, during which he threw for 242 yards with a touchdown and two interceptions.
Coming in for Cutler at Washington, McCown was impressive in going 14 of 20 for 204 yards and a touchdown while running for 33 yards.
"Josh is going to do the job," Cutler told the Bears' official website. "We've got a good game plan coming in. Josh fared well against (Washington). He'll play well again this week."
While McCown has running back Matt Forte, receivers Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery and tight end Martellus Bennett to lean on, a banged-up and underachieving defense faces an even tougher task trying to stop Rodgers and Co. with rookies Jon Bostic and Khaseem Greene starting at linebacker.
The Bears have lost defensive tackles Henry Melton and Nate Collins along with linebacker D.J. Williams to season-ending injuries, and cornerback Charles Tillman is nursing a sore knee. Chicago ranks 27th in the NFL with 391.0 yards allowed per contest going into a matchup with a Green Bay team that's scored 75 points the last two weeks.
Despite missing receivers Randall Cobb and James Jones along with tight end Jermichael Finley due to injuries, Rodgers went 24 of 29 for 285 yards and two TDs in a 44-31 win over Minnesota on Sunday. He's thrown five touchdowns and no interceptions the last two games.
Jordy Nelson posted his second 100-yard receiving effort in three games with 123 yards and two touchdowns on seven catches against the Vikings.
Second-year receiver Jarrett Boykin has stepped in nicely with 13 receptions for 192 yards and a TD in the past two contests.
'We've got a great team, very well-coached," Rodgers said. "Guys are ready to play."
It's been a powerful ground attack, however, that's allowed Green Bay to overcome the rash of injuries to the passing attack.
After ranking 20th with 106.4 rushing yards per game in 2012, the Packers are near the top of the league with 141.4 a contest this season. They're averaging 4.8 yards per carry.
Rookie Eddie Lacy rushed for 94 yards last week and has averaged 98.8 in the past four games. James Starks returned from missing three games with a knee injury to run seven times for 57 yards and a TD at Minnesota.
"They're statistics," McCarthy said. "There's one statistic that counts (winning the Super Bowl) and we're working our way toward it, and we're a long way from that.
"Running the ball's part of it."
Despite Green Bay's recent dominance over the Bears, it's averaged 80.8 rushing yards in the last four meetings at Lambeau. However, Chicago ranks 25th with 117.3 yards allowed on the ground and gave up a season-high 209 to the Redskins.
Marshall leads the Bears with 46 receptions for 540 yards and has five TDs, but he was held to eight catches for 80 yards and a score against the Packers in 2012.
Green Bay has won 11 straight and 20 of its last 22 regular-season and playoff home games against NFC North opponents.
The Associated Press News Service
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