How does one sum up the state of the Packers-Bears rivalry using just one metric?
Today, let’s explore double-digit leads.
Brett Favre will have his number retired Thursday night during halftime of the latest go-round in a series that predates television. The iron man of quarterbacks manhandled the Bears so often, it’s surprising the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals never got involved.
Favre won 12 of his first 15 starts against the Bears, all but No. 15 coming with Mike Holmgren as coach. Green Bay outscored Chicago 378-244 in those games.
Favre’s exploits against the Monsters of the Midway are legendary. He was head of the class in the way he schooled them.
There is another Packers quarterback who has enjoyed similar success. He won 12 of his first 15 starts and Green Bay outscored Chicago 406-245 in those games.
Aaron Rodgers also has taught the Bears a lesson or two. He has thrown more touchdown passes against them (34) than against any other team.
Favre’s Packers rolled up 10 straight wins against Chicago.
Rodgers’ team has not allowed the Bears to manufacture a double-digit lead since he became the starter in 2008.
Think about that. It has been nearly eight years since Chicago last led Green Bay by 10 or more points.
On Dec. 23, 2007, the Bears crushed Green Bay 35-7 on a bitterly cold afternoon (wind chill minus-18). It was Favre’s final chapter in the rivalry.
For Chicago, that 28-point victory must seem like ages ago. Robbie Gould is the only player remaining on its roster from that day.
The Bears have tallied 28 points against the Packers just once since, during the 2013 regular-season finale. Green Bay won that game 33-28 with a fourth-down, 48-yard bomb from Rodgers to Randall Cobb in the closing seconds.
The Bears have failed to mount a lead — any lead — in five of the last 15 games in the series. They have been out in front by no more than a field goal in another five.
Their largest leads in the remaining five games have been seven, eight, seven, seven and four points. That eight-point edge lasted all of 3:17 in the 2013 regular-season finale.
Getting ahead by 10 or more points is fairly common. At least one team has defeated another by that margin every week of every NFL season this century.
Chicago never has experienced a double-digit drought like this against the Packers. The closest was a 9-game stretch from 1931 through 1933, when scoring was less prevalent.
Clock watchers will note the Bears have spent precious little time out in front of the Packers. On average, they have led for fewer than 10 minutes (9:53) per game since 2008.
By quarter, that breaks out to 1:18, 2:45, 2:47 and 3:03. The numbers suggest a team struggling to gain the upper hand.
The Bears have led the entire 15 minutes of a quarter just once since 2008. They did so in the fourth quarter of a 27-20 victory at Lambeau Field two years ago when Rodgers exited early with a broken collarbone.
Green Bay has been far superior at manufacturing double-digit leads. It has been up by at least 10 points in 11 of the last 15 games. The Packers are 9-2 in those games.
Chicago fought back from 11 down to register a 20-17 overtime win on Dec. 22, 2008. It also overcame a 10-point deficit to notch a 20-17 victory on Sept. 27, 2010.
On average, Green Bay has been in the lead for 36:13 per game. That’s three-and-a-half times longer than what the Bears have managed.
By quarter, that’s 3:30, 9:27, 11:45 and 11:32. This suggests some games have been all but decided by halftime.
The Packers have led the entire 15 minutes in 24 of the last 60 quarters in the series. Eighteen of those occurred in the second half.
Those late leads result because Green Bay tends to pounce early. It has outscored the Bears 218-99 in first halves and 76-24 in first quarters.
Of course, the Packers’ recent success does not mean they will cruise Thursday night. Nothing is a given for a team that follows a six-game winning streak with a three-game slide.
Should the Bears grab a double-digit advantage, Green Bay could be in trouble. Chicago is 14-2 at Lambeau Field in games in which it builds a lead of that size.
Overall: Chicago leads 92-91-6
At Lambeau Field: Packers lead 33-23
Packers: Aaron Rodgers (77-36 overall; 12-3 vs. Chicago)
Bears: Jay Cutler (65-63; 1-11 vs. Green Bay)
Out before the count of 10
Most consecutive regular-season games in which Green Bay has prevented Chicago from mounting a double-digit lead.