2021 Bye Week - That's What Cheese Said

Hear from Head Coach Matt LaFleur following Green Bay's bye week. 

Head Coach Matt LaFleur met with the media on Monday afternoon after Green Bay’s Week 13 bye. In his presser, he gave Packers fans plenty of reasons for optimism, including the potential return of three All-Pros. 

When asked whether or not the Packers could get back David Bakhtiari, Za’Darius Smith, and Jaire Alexander this week, LaFleur said “Potentially, certainly we hope so.” He added that the team would know more on Wednesday, and that each player’s injury is different so their timelines for return may also differ. 

While a Week 13 bye is the latest in franchise history, it did give the team some time to get healthy for the stretch run that sees three of Green Bay’s final five regular season games at Lambeau Field. 

“I hope it gets the guys kind of rejuvenated for the final push that we’re about to encounter,” said LaFleur. 

The 9-3 Packers will take on the division rival Chicago Bears on Sunday Night Football at Lambeau, and Green Bay knows what’s at stake beyond just the NFC North, which can be clinched as early as Sunday night if the Minnesota Vikings lose to the Pittsburgh Steelers on Thursday Night Football. 

Currently, the Packers are in second place in the NFC behind the 10-2 Arizona Cardinals, but Green Bay holds the all-important tiebreaker. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are also sitting at 9-3, with the Los Angeles Rams and Dallas Cowboys not far behind at 8-4. 

“That’s the way it is every year,” LaFleur said of the competition atop the NFC. “The thing is, you can only control what you can control in terms of how you prepare each and every week.”

When asked if he’ll do any scoreboard watching down the stretch, LaFleur said not really. 

“I think if you start focusing on things outside of your control or outside of your football team, then you’re not 100% focused on the challenges that lie ahead for your team,” adding that Green Bay just needs to take care of its own business.

The bye week also allowed the Packers plenty of time to self-scout going into the home stretch of the regular season. As things currently stand, Green Bay boasts the league’s fifth best defense in points against (20.2 points per game) and the 15th best offense in points for (23.6 points per game). Green Bay is the league’s 25th ranked red zone offense and the 31st ranked defense. That said, the Packers defense is tied for fourth in the NFL in turnover differential at +9, and Green Bay has yet to lose a game this season when winning the turnover battle. 

The Packers have lived by the “next man up” mentality all season, and that could be the case again this week. The hope is that inside linebacker De’Vondre Campbell is able to return from the COVID-19/Reserve List by Friday, though he’ll be participating in team meetings via Zoom all week. 

Additionally, backup quarterback Jordan Love was added to the COVID-19/Reserve List on Monday, so it’s possible practice squad quarterback Kurt Benkert will be taking first-team reps all week with Aaron Rodgers not practicing much on his injured toe. 

With the Bears coming to town Sunday for matchup No. 204 in the all-time series, LaFleur detailed some of the challenges that come along with playing division rivals twice a year. 

“I always think that the second time you play somebody it’s challenging for both teams because you're going to rely on a lot that went right and/or wrong the first time you played, and you’re going to try to play that kind of chess game in terms of, how are you going to adjust,” he said. Green Bay still has second matchups against the Vikings and Lions to close out the regular season, too. 

“Every time you play the Chicago Bears, you know it’s going to be a physical, four quarter battle,” he added. “It’s Sunday Night Football in Lambeau. We know we’ll get their best shot.”

While the Bears at 4-8 are falling behind in the Wild Card race, they’d like nothing more than to play spoiler to Green Bay’s chances at the NFC’s No. 1 seed. The oldest rivalry in sports writes another chapter this Sunday at 7:20 p.m. CT. 

 

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Maggie Loney is a writer for Cheesehead TV and podcaster for the Pack-A-Day Podcast and Pack's What She Said. Find her on Twitter at @MaggieJLoney.

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9 points

Comments (20)

Fan-Friendly This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.
Brockrice99's picture

December 07, 2021 at 12:32 pm

Do not overlook the Bears. Division games can always be a war, and after what Aaron said the last time we were in Chicago, I expect them to come out firing. Let's come out hot and just over power them like we can. But if we come out like we have the last few times we have played coming off the bye, it could be a long hard game. Just go out there smash them in the mouth on both sides of the ball, run down their throat, and prevent them from running down ours and it should be a nice victory for us. As always.... "The Bears Still Suck"

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HawkPacker's picture

December 07, 2021 at 01:49 pm

Yes this game scares me a bit just based on how we have played coming off the bye.

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fordguy's picture

December 07, 2021 at 03:44 pm

It would be nice if the Pack could run up the score early and if any of the "3" are back they could put them on a pitch count.

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mbpacker's picture

December 07, 2021 at 05:30 pm

I agree completely! This won't be the easy game that some think. Bears will bring it and they would love nothing more than to beat us at home and maybe spoil our playoff seeding. They still have a lot to play for other than just beating the Packers. They still have a slim shot at the playoffs. With so many teams losing each week, if they can finish on an upturn, they could still get in. And what Brock said, 12's ownership comment will still be etched in their heads, I am sure, for added hatred and motivation. GPG!

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jurp's picture

December 08, 2021 at 02:30 pm

AR's Ownership comment has probably been playing a loop in their lockerroom all week.

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PewAuKeeFan's picture

December 08, 2021 at 09:30 am

Opponents disrespecting the belt is an automatic win for Packers.

Packers disrespecting Bears does not have any such law. 😁😁😁

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PewAuKeeFan's picture

December 08, 2021 at 12:05 pm

Deleted duplicate

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packer132's picture

December 07, 2021 at 05:43 pm

The Bears always play the Packers tough, and no NFL game is easy. The last 7 years have been close games, with the most recent blowout coming in 2014 (55-14 Green Bay). Rodgers still has only practiced once in 5 weeks, and not expecting injured players back yet. Packers win 34-20.

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jont's picture

December 07, 2021 at 06:05 pm

Let me sound a voice of optimism. I think the Pack wins this going away.

Will the Bears score? Probably, but 13 points would be pretty good for them at this stage.

Chicagoans seem to agree. "Maybe the Bears come to play and pull off a dramatic upset on national television. But if it goes the other way — the way it usually goes against the Packers — you have to wonder if a (coaching) change could be made as soon as next week." (NBC Sports)

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Tedlyflyfisher's picture

December 07, 2021 at 10:50 pm

If they did some self scouting, I hope they took a long, hard look at special teams. If we don’t improve in that area it could be a fatal flaw in the post season.

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Tundraboy's picture

December 07, 2021 at 11:22 pm

Well I'm officially ready for the game, now. Bring on the Bears for a butt kicking. I'm not even concerned with it being a Sunday nighter.

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Spock's picture

December 08, 2021 at 07:39 am

Always enjoy these, Maggie! Campbell is the guy I want "back" the most this week. I see that Kurt Benkert is, indeed, signed to the regular roster for this game. Interesting stuff going on and the Bears/Packers are always a hard fought affair.

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dobber's picture

December 08, 2021 at 08:04 am

Gotta love the picture of LaF you chose...

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Leatherhead's picture

December 08, 2021 at 09:12 am

We’ll beat the Bears.

Did anybody notice that the Patriots threw THREE passes in their win over Buffalo?

Run more, pass less. Imagine Jordan Love throwing 10-15 passes in a game while we keep it on the ground

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dobber's picture

December 08, 2021 at 09:30 am

Nobody knows how that one turns out if the wind wasn't howling, but it's a remarkable box score...

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Leatherhead's picture

December 08, 2021 at 12:47 pm

You might want to check out the box on Scott Hunter in 1972.. He was the bridge between Starr and Dickey. In 14 games, he threw 199 passes and completed less than half of them. He had more interceptions than TD s.

Yet, we won 10 games with this guy. How ? We ran and played defense. In the next 20 years, we won 10 games once. The Long Dry Spell had begun.

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jurp's picture

December 08, 2021 at 02:32 pm

Wasn't a typical day for Starr something like 14 of 20 for 180 yards and 2 TDs. Those were definitely different days...

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Grandfathered's picture

December 08, 2021 at 09:49 pm

Wow, a Scott Hunter mention! I think I have his football card.

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Grandfathered's picture

December 08, 2021 at 09:52 pm

Now that I think about it, I have a John Brockington and a Macarthur Lane football card. That's why Hunter didn't have to pass much.

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Starrbrite's picture

December 08, 2021 at 09:27 pm

There are times when Packer fans have the right to be nervous about their upcoming opponent and this is not that time. The Bears are a mess. Will they find inspiration from ARod’s “I own you” comments, perhaps, but it’s not an equalizer. Is the rivalry alone enough to make this a close contest —not likely. The disparity between these two teams is to large. I’m not sweating this game. The I fear Lions more than the Bears.

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