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Sunday, December 25, 2011
Rapid Reaction: Packers 35, Bears 21

By Kevin Seifert

GREEN BAY, Wis. -- Some thoughts on a rare blowout between NFC North rivals:

What it means: The Green Bay Packers improved to 14-1, setting a franchise record for victories in a season and clinching home-field advantage throughout the NFC playoffs. They'll have a decision to make on how to approach Week 17, which will carry no playoff implications for them. Coach Mike McCarthy has previously indicated he wouldn't veer from his regular lineup in that situation, but we'll see. The injury-devastated Chicago Bears lost their fifth consecutive game and were officially eliminated from playoff contention.

RivalryWatch: The Packers have now swept the Bears in the teams' season series in two of the past three years. Overall, the Packers have won five of the past six games between the two teams. It was the biggest margin of defeat for either team in the series since their second meeting in 2007, a 35-7 Bears victory.

RodgersWatch: Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers had the first five-touchdown game of his career, throwing two apiece to receivers Jordy Nelson and James Jones and another to tight end Jermichael Finley. Rodgers completed his first eight passes and finished 21 of 29 for 283 yards. Along the way, he broke Lynn Dickey's franchise record for passing yards in a season and now has 4,739. He also extended his team record for touchdown passes in a season; he's now at 45. Finally, Rodgers set a new NFL record by recording a 13th game with a passer rating of at least 100.0 in a single season. Sunday's rating was a cool 142.7.

McCownWatch: Bears quarterback Josh McCown performed much more credibly than I'm sure most people expected. I suppose some of you might be turned off by his dunk over the crossbar after taking in a 2-point conversion in the fourth quarter. I thought it was fun. This is a guy that hadn't started a game since 2007 and began the fall coaching high school football. McCown never imagined he would be starting a game again on national television. Give him a break. The Bears smartly limited his opportunities with a steady diet of running plays in the first half and into the third quarter. Bears running back Kahlil Bell ran hard and had 121 yards on 23 carries, and overall the Bears rushed for 199 yards. But that sort of offense can't keep up with the opponents go on a scoring spree. That began midway through the third quarter, a 21-0 run that quashed the Bears' game plan.

Injury report: Packers running back James Starks again left with an ankle injury that looks like it's going to be a factor for a while. This has been going on for more than a month. The Bears lost right tackle Lance Louis to a illness in the first half and he returned only as part of a goal-line set thereafter. Frank Omiyale replaced him at right tackle.

What's next: The Packers will host the Detroit Lions next Sunday in a game that will have relevance only for the Lions, whose postseason seeding -- No. 5 or No. 6 -- has yet to be determined. The Bears will close out this disappointing season with a game at the Minnesota Vikings.