Jay CutlerThe Chicago Bears (8-7) will host the Green Bay Packers (7-7-1) in Week 17 with the winner advancing to the postseason.

After the Packers fell to the Pittsburgh Steelers 38-31, the Bears had an opportunity to wrap up the division last week, but they were manhandled by the Eagles to the tune of 54-11.

Jay Cutler will be playing in his second straight game, while Aaron Rodgers will suit up for the first time since he sustained a broken collarbone against the Bears on Nov. 4.

In what promises to be one of the most interesting games this week, here are a few things to watch for from this divisional matchup.

Jay Cutler vs. Packers' defense

If you have been following the trends in past games between these two rivals, you are already aware of the fact that Cutler has not played well against the Packers.

In fact, Cutler is just 1-8 against Green Bay since coming to the Windy City in 2009, which includes a 21-14 defeat in the 2011 NFC Championship game.

Not only that, Cutler has thrown eight touchdowns and 17 interceptions against the Packers, while throwing for 33 touchdowns and 16 picks against the rest of the teams in the NFC North, according to Michael C. Wright of ESPN Chicago.

That being said, while it will take a group effort offensively for the Bears to win this game, it all starts and ends with how well Cutler plays.

Aaron Rodgers vs. Bears' defense

In the previous meeting between the two clubs on Nov. 4, the Bears did a good job getting pressure on the opposing quarterback.

Shea McClellin recorded three sacks in that game and and forced Rodgers to leave the game with a broken collarbone.

In order for the Bears to have any chance against Rodgers, they will have to duplicate that effort. If not, he is going to pick their secondary apart in methodical fashion.

With regards to the defending against the ground game, Chicago ranks dead last in the league in run defense, giving up 161 yards per outing, including an average of 201 yards per contest over the last nine games.

The good news is that Eddie Lacy, who rushed for 150 yards on 22 carries when these teams played at Lambeau field a month ago, will be less than 100 percent due to an ankle injury.

Therefore, if the Bears are able to slow down the Packers' ground game, they will force a rusty Rodgers to become one-dimensional, which should potentially tilt the game in their favor.

Bears' rushing attack

Prior to last week's 54-11 loss to the Eagles, Matt Forte had recorded 100 rushing yards in three consecutive games.

However, after falling into a 21-0 deficit after the first quarter, the Bears were forced to abandon the ground game, thus limiting Forte to 29 yards on just nine carries.

Forte, who rushed for 125 yards on 24 carries in the Bears' 27-20 victory over Green Bay a month ago, will need to have a more prominent role in this game.

One of the best ways to limit the effectiveness of a great quarterback like Rodgers is to keep him off the field and a solid running will do just that.

Conclusion

Once it was reported that Rodgers would play, the Packers became the favorites to win this game and rightfully so.

And although the Bears have not played well against the Packers over the recent few seasons, they did manage to end a six-game losing streak to their divisional rivals the last time the two teams faced each other.

Taking that into consideration, if the Bears are able to play as well as they did at Lambeau Field, which means not turning the ball over and establish a good running game, there is no reason why they cannot come out on top again.

Pick: Bears 34, Packers 31

 

James Tillman III is a resident of the Chicago-land area, who follows all the teams in the local region. James is currently a sports contributor for various sites including Football Nation, Sports Kings/Pass the Pill and Sports Rantz Magazine. James is also a former Featured Sports Contributor for Yahoo! Contributor Network. Follow him on Twitter @jtillman9693