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How Packers Losing David Bakhtiari Could Impact Bears Chances

The Green Bay Packers lost their starting left tackle for the season due to a knee injury on Thursday as they prepared to face the Chicago Bears but it's not the first time this year they've had to deal with an altered offensive line

The Bears would like to their defense will give a different performance Sunday against Green Bay than in the earlier 41-25 loss and this is uncertain.

What is certain is the dynamic up front when the Packers have the ball in this matchup has changed considerably.

The Bears will have Akiem Hicks playing in this game, their best run stuffer and a force at caving in the pocket in the passing game. Meanwhile, Green Bay will not have Pro Bowl left tackle David Bakhtiari due to a season-ending injury suffered in practice.

The player most affected on the Bears by Bakhtiari's absence is right outside linebacker Robert Quinn, who has suffered through the worst pass-rushing season he's had in the NFL with only two sacks.

"When I look at it, I'm still shocked," Quinn said. "I still can't believe I had a season like I've had this year, but there's no excuse. The only person I've got to blame is myself for that.

"But again, I guess if I can double my season production come Sunday and make it impactful, that's a heck of a great season, I guess, to get us in the playoffs."

Without Bakhtiari to face, the Bears could also shift Khalil Mack more to the right side of the line as they have often done in past seasons but have done less of this year because Quinn is not as versatile as former Bears outside linebacker Leonard Floyd was in past years.

Having Hicks in this game will no doubt make a difference for the Bears, although they had him against Detroit in Week 13 and gave up 34 points and allowed Minnesota to move the ball well three weeks ago in a 33-27 victory.

Losing Bakhtiari, who infuriated some Bears with a derogatory remark about them on a Milwaukee radio station, can affect the Packers. However, it's something they've dealt with well enough in the past.

The Packers have depth on their line and played this season without Bakhtiari for three full games and also the end of their blowout loss to Tampa Bay. 

They did it merely by shifting right tackle Billy Turner to left tackle and using Ricky Wagner at right tackle. Wagner is a former Lions and Ravens starting lineman who signed with Green Bay this year as a free agent, began as a backup, but has started eight games at both guard and tackle.

The problem for the Packers is Wagner is also suffering from a knee injury, although he was able to practice Thursday on a limited basis. Wagner missed Wednesday's practice.

The Packers had been operating efficiently enough short-handed on the line, anyway. They were without center Corey Linsley after an injury suffered against the Bears, shifted around their line and were still able to rush for 149 yards, 120 and 195 in three straight wins. 

When Linsley returned last week and they had the full line intact, they ran all over Tennessee for 234 yards.

Rodgers threw for 11 touchdown passes during the absence of his starting left tackle, the most he's had over any three-game stretch this season. He had to, because Green Bay's rushing production waned. During a course of eight games which encompassed those three without Bakhtiari, the Packers averaged 92.7 yards rushing. In their other games this season they averaged 185.3 yards rushing.

The Bears beat San Francisco 34-17 and Houston 35-20 but lost to the Vikings 28-22 without Bakhtiari.

The last time before that they had to cope with missing Bakhtiari was under the Mike McCarthy coaching regime in 2017 in a different offense and they won three out of the four games. They also had different backups then.

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