Updated: January 23, 2012 11:05AM
In the season finale nearly a year ago, the Bears had a chance to knock the Green Bay Packers out of the playoffs.
The Packers survived that game, 10-3, to make the postseason, then barreled through opponents to win the Super Bowl.
The roles are reversed now, and the Packers don’t seem inclined to return the favor.
“We’re going to play this thing to win,” Packers linebacker Clay Matthews said Wednesday.
The Packers, after all, clinched the NFC North earlier this month, and they can clinch the No. 1 seed with a loss by the San Francisco 49ers on Saturday or by defeating the Bears Sunday at Lambeau Field.
The Packers suffered their first loss last Sunday in Kansas City.
“Anytime you lose in this league, you’re never happy about it,” Matthews said. “But I think we’re more ready to respond and get this bad taste out of our mouth.
“We were able to do something pretty special with 13 wins in a row this year and 19 stemming back from last year. All our goals we want to attain are still in front of us.”
Meanwhile, Packers coach Mike McCarthy isn’t buying that the loss last Sunday was a good one.
“I think some people may feel that way,” he said. “I know that’s not my feeling and what I expressed to the football team. You learn from every opportunity. You don’t have to lose a game to learn from that experience. I’m not a big fan of losing.”
Even if the Bears win, they still need plenty of help to get a playoff spot. But the Packers surely would prefer to finish off their rival.
Not only did they lose the game, the Bears are nursing a number of injuries after Sunday’s loss to the Seattle Seahawks. Johnny Knox and Chris Conte were placed on injured reserve, and a handful of veterans didn’t practice Wednesday: tight end Kellen Davis (back), defensive tackle Henry Melton (shin), receiver Devin Hester (ankle), linebacker Lance Briggs (ankle) and running back Marion Barber (calf).
“More guys than we would like on the sideline for a game like this,” Bears coach Lovie Smith said, “but we still have a little bit of time.”
As for the Packers, they’ve already ruled out starters Greg Jennings and Bryan Bulaga. In addition, defensive end Ryan Pickett was limited, along with linebacker Desmond Bishop, offensive tackle Chad Clifton, defensive end Mike Neal and running back Brandon Saine.
The Bears added receiver Kevin Jurovich to the practice squad. The 6-foot receiver was an undrafted free agent signed by the Philadelphia Eagles in 2010 out of San Jose State.