Khalil Mack was reminded Friday of Aaron Rodgers' current run without an interception, a streak that has been building since September — 9½ games, 368 passes.
Mack just shrugged.
"One of the best in the league," the Bears outside linebacker acknowledged after practice at Halas Hall. "That's kind of what you expect from a guy like that. I wouldn't expect anything less. But on Sunday our job is to change that."
As a defense, the Bears will push to snap Rodgers' record streak. And with a resume that includes 25 picks this season, they'll certainly have a shot. More specifically, Mack will attempt to affect Sunday's game the way he affected this season's first meeting between the rivals.
Remember that one? Sure, Rodgers led a remarkable second-half rally and the Bears lost 24-23 in the season opener. But as much as defensive players remember that painful unraveling, they also remember Mack's instant impact. Eight nights after arriving in Chicago, the All-Pro pass rusher had a strip-sack and an interception return for a touchdown in the first half against the Packers.
Both came against Deshone Kizer, who came in temporarily after Rodgers injured his left knee. But both big plays gave Bears defenders a huge confidence boost, a firm belief that Mack's presence would take an already established defense to a new level.
"It was just on a big stage," Prince Amukamara said. "I don't want to say he put us on the map because I feel like our defense was already there. But he just brought a whole new dynamic to our team. Another guy with playmaking ability. And (he was) bringing that momentum and that adrenaline. That was something that we could build off."
Almost immediately, the Bears defense saw the attention opposing offenses had to pay to Mack and how that freed other guys up to make plays.
Said safety Eddie Jackson: "He really helped us in a major, major way, and we appreciate him for it. One of the things we wanted to show him was, hey, you've got ballers over here with you. So you don't have to do it yourself."
That's how Mack likes it, an undeniable star who wants most to be a contributor to the group. This weekend he and the Bears will have the opportunity to get after Rodgers, to avenge that Week 1 loss, to clinch the NFC North title. That would put the Bears back in the postseason for the first time in eight years.
For Mack, who acknowledged in September that his stardom and the Bears' surprising emergence had led to enthusiastic encounters at places such as Target and Home Goods, the energy has continued to build.
"When you win, it's definitely there," Mack said. "The energy definitely goes up. That's the way you want to keep it. That's the way we love it around here in Chicago."
Asked where in public he had recently experienced that energy and the exchanges with exuberant fans, Mack smiled. "I can't tell you," he quipped. "Because I feel like people have been going to the places that I want to go now. Know what I mean? Man, I pull up to Home Goods and people are waiting on me in the parking lot."
He was joking, of course. But he was also very aware of how significant a victory over Rodgers and the Packers could be this weekend.