Bears Game Day: Be So Good They Can No Longer Ignore You
I don’t mean to be as coach-like as the title implies, but the Bears have two goals when they meet the Packers tonight. The first is to play as they belong on the same field as their NFC North rivals. The second is to win the game. Green Bay is a 10-point favorite in the latest Bears vs. Packers odds from Caesars Sportsbook, while the over-under for total points scored is 41.5. That seems a little low since the final score was 45-30 when these two teams met last December.
By the way, I’m tired of the Sunday Night Football crew constantly writing the Bears off. That changes starting tonight.
Two-time Super Bowl champion Rob Ninkovich on who he's picking between the Chicago Bears and the Green Bay Packers: "This has upset alert written all over it. Da Bears."
— Daniel Greenberg (@ChiSportUpdates) September 17, 2022
The Bears have lost six straight to the Packers since Matt LeFleur took over the coaching duties in Green Bay back in 2019. Expect both teams to try to establish their running games tonight. Believe it or not, Chicago will have the best wide receiver on the field in tonight’s game. That would be Darnell Mooney, but Justin Fields will need to target him more than the three times he did in last week’s 19-10 win over the 49ers. The Packers are missing stars Davante Adams and Marquez Valdes-Scantling. Both left in free agency.
It rained a bit last night and this afternoon’s forecast calls for more rain. By game time it is supposed to be clear and cool, with a slight chance of showers toward the end of the game. The field will be dry enough so that the playmakers for both teams can churn and burn. Plus, the game will be nationally televised.
The Bears are 1-0 and tied for first place in the NFC North. Chicago beat San Francisco 19-10 in a rain-soaked affair at Soldier Field last Sunday. The 49ers couldn’t take advantage of great field position in the first half, and Chicago score 19 uninterrupted points after trailing 10-0 midway through the third quarter. Fields threw touchdown passes to Dante Pettis and Equanimeous St. Brown. San Francisco beat the Bears in every statistical category except turnovers, but the 49ers took 12 penalties for 99 yards, and that cost them the game. Chicago was penalized just three times, and the team has shown a knack for playing disciplined football under head coach Matt Eberflus.
1-0!@ChicagoBears QB @justnfields joined Pam Oliver after the game to talk about how the Bears were able to battle the elements and get the upset W! pic.twitter.com/tfLNjWs79b
— FOX Sports: NFL (@NFLonFOX) September 11, 2022
The Packers were spanked by the Vikings in a 23-7 loss at Minnesota. Aaron Rodgers did not throw a touchdown pass and was intercepted once near the end of the game. Rodgers had trouble connecting with rookie wide receivers Christian Watson and Romeo Doubs. The Vikings sacked Rogers four times, and that’s a key stat. Over the last two seasons, Rodgers is 91-of-108 (84.3%) for 987 yards against the Bears with 14 touchdowns and no interceptions. Chicago sacked him 7 times in those four contests, all losses by a combined score of 145-85. However, the four-time MVP is a pedestrian 21-29-1 when he has been sacked four or more times since becoming a starter.
Why the Packers Will Win
Rodgers said “he owns Chicago” last year and the Bears have yet to do anything to prove him wrong. He doesn’t have Adams or Valdes-Scantling, but running backs Aaron Jones and AJ Dillon are formidable weapons. Both usually have big games against Chicago. Green Bay will pound the rock early and feature plenty of play-action to buy their quarterback time.
If the Bears can’t keep Rodgers in the pocket, he’ll have a huge game tonight. Allen Lazard is expected to play, so that gives Green Bay another veteran option. Watson and Doubs are struggling a bit, but make no mistake, both are very talented. Veterans Randall Cobb, Sammy Watkins, and Juwann Winfree weren’t much help, either. Rodgers always bounces back after a tough game, so expect him to pick up his offense tonight, with Cobb and Lazard being his top targets.
Green Bay has one of the best defenses in the league, but Kirk Cousins and Justin Jefferson toasted their vaunted secondary last week. Cousins threw for 277 yards and two touchdowns, both to Jefferson who finished with 184 receiving yards. The Packers are determined to shut down Fields and the Bears passing attack. Fields is 0-2 lifetime against Rodgers, as the Bears lost both of last year’s meetings by a combined score of 69-44. However, the second-year quarterback accounted for 515 total yards and three touchdown passes in those tilts. Green Bay has to contain Fields to win.
Why the Bears Will Win
Chicago’s front seven should dominate tonight. The Packers are very thin on the offensive line and are planning on using a lot of two-back sets to give Rodgers an extra blocker. Edge rusher Dominique Robinson is one of the league’s best rookies, and because he’s so good at getting to the quarterback, the Packers won’t be able to double-team Robert Quinn or Trevis Gipson. Roquan Smith had a poor first half last week but will play out of his mind tonight. If the Bears shut down Green Bay’s offense, they’ll win in a cakewalk. That said, Justin Jones, Angelo Blackson, and Nicholas Morrow have to stifle the Packers’ running game.
Fields is going to try to further exploit Green Bay’s battered secondary, but David Montgomery needs to play better than he did last week. Khalil Herbert will get more reps and that’s not surprising. He’s a better fit in Chicago’s offense, and Luke Getsy loves him. Cole Kmet and Byron Pringle will see a lot of action tonight, and if they find success, the Bears can control the game clock. Keeping Rodgers on the sideline is the best way to beat him.
- Bears – Rookie receiver Velus Jones Jr. (hamstring) is listed as doubtful after sitting out practice Friday.
- Packers – Starting tackles David Bakhtiari (knee) and Elgton Jenkins (knee) are listed as questionable. One or both will probably be sidelined tonight. Starting guard Jon Runyan (concussion) may have to sit out as well. Lazard is also listed as questionable. That said, the Packers have already acknowledged he will play.
All we need is us. pic.twitter.com/iYHzCS19MT
— Chicago Bears (@ChicagoBears) September 18, 2022
Sean Holland previewed the game on Friday and predicted a Green Bay 24-10 win. In my preseason analysis, I called for the Bears to lose 35-24. Earlier in the week, I called it 24-16 for the Bears. I’m still taking the Bears and the over. Give Chicago the win by a final score of 30-23 in a back-and-forth battle. Kmet and Herbert will be tonight’s offensive stars, and D-Rob, Smith, and Gipson will light it up on defense.
I expect the Bears to sack Rodgers at least four times and win the turnover battle. Eddie Jackson, Jaylon Johnson, Jaquan Brisker, and Kyler Gordon are going to shut down Green Bay’s passing attack. As far as penalties are concerned, expect another clean game by Chicago. It’s time for the Bears to take ownership of this rivalry, and they’ll start tonight.