The Bears will have their hands full when they travel to Lambeau Field to take on the Packers on Sunday Night Football. But they’ll be playing with a fuller deck than they’ve had in a long time. Akiem Hicks and Allen Robinson are each trending towards playing after returning to the practice field for the first time in nearly a month. In addition, Justin Fields will be back in the starting lineup after missing two games with a ribs injury. While those additions will help keep the game more competitive, the Bears will still have to execute on several keys to give themselves a chance to pull off an upset against their rivals.
SCORE POINTS ON OFFENSE
While this may seem silly, as teams always need to score points to win, the idea is that no matter how the Bears decide to play, they must finish more drives with scores than without. When facing an elite quarterback and a dynamic offense there are two schools of thought: either sustain long drives to keep that QB off the field, or play aggressively to try to keep up. When the Bears take on Aaron Rodgers, it doesn’t matter which way they decide to play, because if they don’t score points it will be irrelevant.
Look at the Bears’ two games against Rodgers and Tom Brady in Weeks 6 and 7. In the first game vs. the Packers, Fields’ average intended air yards was 10.3, which ranked on the higher end for Fields at that point of the year. One game later, that tumbled to 6.4, one of the lowest at that point. The Bears lost both games handily, because whether they took deep shots, or tried to grind out long drives, they couldn’t score.
FIND NEW WAY TO WIN
When the Bears win the turnover battle, they win the game. It’s been a simple equation that hasn’t played out as much as the team would’ve liked up to this point. They’re 3-0 when taking the ball away more than they give it away. But when they tie or lose that battle, they’re 1-8. Unfortunately for the Bears, they’re taking on a quarterback that is one of the best in the NFL at protecting the football. Rodgers has four interceptions on the season. The only quarterback with fewer picks (with a minimum of 200 attempts) is Kirk Cousins. However Cousins has fumbled the ball seven times, compared to Rodgers’ two. That may encourage a defender to try to take bigger chances to create a turnover, Jaylon Johnson said “you’d be a fool” to try and play outside yourself against Rodgers. “He's going to take advantage of guys who are trying to do too much and get out of character,” Johnson said.
Instead, the Bears will have to write a new script for a chance at victory. Whether that’s ratcheting up the pass rush, or using trick plays to score on explosive touchdowns, the Bears will have to rely on something other than turnovers to generate a win.
GET SIGNATURE GAME FROM JUSTIN FIELDS
When Fields marched the Bears offense down for what could have been a game-winning score on Monday Night Football against the Steelers, Matt Nagy called it a signature moment for the rookie quarterback. He went 3-5 for 64 yards and the touchdown, while adding two rushes for 11 yards. But it wasn’t enough, and the Bears still ended up losing. That’s because outside that one drive, Fields only completed 14-24 passes for 227 yards and an interception. That type of game, highlighted by one spectacular drive, didn’t cut it against the Steelers, and it won’t cut it against the Packers.
We’ve seen signature moments from Fields, from the aforementioned drive to his jaw-dropping 4th-and-2 touchdown run against the 49ers. But we’ve yet to see the full signature 60-minute performance. If he can pull it off in Lambeau, that will truly give the Bears their best chance of winning.
FINAL SCORE PREDICTION:
Let’s be honest, when Rodgers exclaimed that he owns the Bears, he wasn’t lying. He’s 21-5 against them, with the last loss coming in December of 2018. Many will say you can throw records out the window in a rivalry game. But with the 4-8 Bears traveling to a hostile environment to take on the 9-3 Packers, who are coming off a bye, it seems like everything will have to go perfectly with a couple of lucky breaks too for the Bears to pull off the upset.
Packers: 31, Bears: 13