Originally posted on Fox Sports Wisconsin  |  Last updated 12/26/11
GREEN BAY, Wis. -- With the Packers' 35-21 win over the Bears on Christmas night, Green Bay clinched the No. 1 seed in the NFC and the road to the Super Bowl will now run through Lambeau Field.Handing out grades following the Packers win:Passing Offense: AAaron Rodgers and the Green Bay passing attack returned to form against the Bears following a rough week in Kansas City.Rodgers threw five touchdown passes, no interceptions and completed 21 of his 29 throws for 283 yards against the Bears.What makes that performance even more impressive was that it was without Rodgers top target, Greg Jennings, who missed his second consecutive game with an MCL sprain.With Jennings out, James Jones and Jordy Nelson stepped up as both had two receiving touchdowns. Tight end Jermichael Finley also had a touchdown catch.Perhaps most important to the passing offenses success was the protection that Rodgers had, as he was not sacked once despite the offensive line starting only two players in their regular positions. Rushing Offense: B-The Packers didnt look to run much, and they didn't need to. However, Ryan Grant made the most of his eight carries with 44 yards (5.5 average), including a 24-yard burst. One issue with the rushing offense was that Grant and James Starks both had mis-reads or communication errors, going the opposite way of Rodgers on two separate run calls. When Starks did it, Rodgers was visibly criticizing him on the field after the play. It is too late in the season for those mistakes to happen.The other issue is that Starks left the game with an ankle injury and just cannot shake the knee and ankle injuries that have bothered him now for more than a month and kept him out of the previous two games. Rushing Defense: DThe Bears were without starting running back Matt Forte. They also did not have backup Marion Barber. Yet Chicago was still able to run for 199 yards on 42 carries (4.7 average) behind a 121-yard performance by Kahlil Green, who went undrafted in 2009.Green Bay's defense was missing tackles, not getting pressure in the backfield on running plays, and in general just getting dominated.However, the Packers were again without defensive lineman Ryan Pickett due to a concussion, and his presence was sorely missed. While it's one thing for elite running backs like Adrian Peterson to have big games against Green Bay on the ground, it cant happen against third-string, undrafted guys like Green.With the Packers' goal being to win the Super Bowl for a second consecutive year, their run defense will have to get much better over the next six weeks in order for that to happen. Passing Defense: BJosh McCown, whose last significant playing time came for the Hartford Colonials of the UFL, started for the Bears at quarterback. Somewhat surprisingly, McCown looked pretty good, completing 19 of his 28 passes for 242 yards.While McCown did have a touchdown pass, it was Green Bay's two interceptions that made a bigger impact in the game. Last week against the Chiefs, the Packers failed to force a turnover and lost. Against Chicago, both Clay Matthews and Charlie Peprah had interceptions and Green Bay got back to its winning ways.As long as the Packers' defense forces turnovers, the relatively large amount of yards allowed can be excused. Its when the yards pile up without the turnovers (see the game against Kansas City) that it becomes a problem. But against the Bears, Green Bay's defense did what has made it successful this season: forcing bad throws by opposing quarterbacks and then grabbing interceptions. Special Teams: BBears return specialist Devin Hester was not 100 percent healthy and came into the game as questionable, but the Packers special teams did a great job of keeping him in check.Tim Masthay was again very solid on his punts, especially considering the threat of Hester waiting 50 yards away.Mason Crosby was not needed in field goals, but also did a good job on kickoffs to limit what Hester could do.Randall Cobb had one punt return and one kick return, and he held onto the ball and looked good. It remains to be seen, however, whether special teams coordinator Shawn Slocum wants Cobb running sideways and not straight ahead, as Cobb ran nearly 50 yards from side to side on a punt return just to gain eight yards.Overall: BGreen Bay locked in home-field advantage through the NFC playoffs and eliminated its long-time division rivals in the same night.But it's how the Packers reached that outcome that has its positives and negatives looking forward.On the positive side was the passing offense, which played well without Jennings for the first time.On the negative side was the rushing defense, which could be a problem in the postseason if Green Bay is in a close game. Because with what the Packers have now put on film, opposing offenses will see the glaring weakness in the defense and look to exploit it, but can only do so effectively if the score is close.Green Bay also escaped the game without any major further injuries, and now has the option to rest any key players next week to head into the playoffs as healthy as possible.Follow Paul Imig on Twitter
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