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Reeling Bears on rival Packers: ‘We can compete against any team’

John Fox fumbled for positives Monday when asked about quarterback Brian Hoyer and landed on, inexplicably, the kicker.

“Bright spot yesterday is I think we were 3-for-3 in field goals, made all our extra points,” the Bears coach said. “Not sure that’s happened yet this year.”

It hadn’t — but it doesn’t matter. That Fox had to dig so deep for optimism the day after the worst loss of his Bears tenure gives an accurate state of the 1-5 Bears as they prepare to play their rival.With a trailer fire one day behind him, the coach seemed eager to look ahead quickly — the Bears travel to Green Bay on Thursday.

“I think the fact that it’s a division game – this will be our second division game this season – so I think it’s kind of exciting that we’re getting back into it on a short week coming off a day like (Sunday),” Fox said. “I’m kind of excited to get back on Thursday, a short week, against a rival.”

Willie Young said the Bears aren't intimidated by the Packers. (AP)

Willie Young said the Bears aren’t intimidated by the Packers. (AP)

The Bears are in trouble: entering the Monday night game, only the Browns, Jets, 49ers and Buccaneers had a worse point differential than their -42. No team in the NFL scores fewer than the Bears’ 16.8 points per game. Only the Browns have won fewer games.The 3-2 Packers haven’t won many style points this season, beating the Jaguars, Lions and Giants by a touchdown or less and losing Sunday at home to the Cowboys, 30-16.

Searching for reasons to be hopeful, the Bears have touted their familiarity with their next two opponents, the Packers and Vikings, before a Week 9 bye. They claim correctly — in terms of fact, but not spirit — that they’re undefeated in NFC North play, at 1-0. Players talked openly Sunday afternoon about being able to win the division, given that seven of their final 10 games are against NFC North opponents.

“People can see we have two division games,” Fox said, “and we’re not looking past anybody by any stretch — we even mentioned that last week.”

They’ve won two of their last three at Lambeau Field — “That’s a pretty cool fact,” outside linebacker Willie Young said — even though victories games took remarkable turns and bookended a 55-14 loss there in 2014.

In 2013, Shea McClellin broke Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers’ collarbone on the Packers’ first series, leaving Seneca Wallace to be sacked four times and throw one interception. The Bears’ 17-13 win last Thanksgiving ended with Rodgers throwing an incomplete pass in the end zone with 29 seconds to play.

“We know that we can compete against any team,” Young said. “It’s never a case where we haven’t had an opportunity to win. It’s just closing it out. If I recall, the last time we played them, it came down to the wire. The last second on the clock, it was that type of game.

“It’s a division game. It’s a rival game for us. It’s going to be hostile, ‘Thursday Night Football.’ The only difference between last week and this week is we’re coming off a short week. They are too.”

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