Preview: Packers vs. Bears

The Packers face the Bears tonight at Lambeau Field with a chance to clinch a playoff berth at stake. A win coupled with losses by New Orleans and San Francisco advances Green Bay to the postseason for the third consecutive year. To make that happen, here are five keys to victory:


1) CREATE TURNOVERS

The Packers are 9-0 this season when they force at least one turnover, so this has to be the No. 1 key to victory. Rookie quarterback Justin Fields has thrown eight interceptions (1 per every 25 attempts), including one in the first meeting between the longtime rivals. The former Ohio State star has also fumbled nine times, so expect Green Bay’s defenders to be going after the ball all night. That includes both when Fields is in the pocket and when he looks to run up the field.

2) RELY ON THE AJs

I wrote extensively on Saturday about the importance of leaning on Aaron Jones and AJ Dillon, especially in the red zone. The two backs are among the three best players on the Green Bay offense, and they need to touch the ball more than the combined 25 times a game they’ve been averaging. This is especially true now that Randall Cobb has joined Robert Tonyan on injured reserve. The Bears’ run defense has been mediocre at best all season, and playing without perennial Pro Bowler Khalil Mack won’t help.

3) KEEP QUINN QUIET

Right outside linebacker Robert Quinn is having a career season. The 10-year vet already has 12 sacks and over 40 pressures. He played pretty well in the first meeting, but he was never a big problem. Of course, Elgton Jenkins was blocking him for much of the game. Now that job will belong to Yosh Nijman, who’s gotten better with each start at left tackle. This will be yet another huge challenge for the former undrafted free agent. Fortunately, it’ll be easier to give him help with Mack not coming off the opposite edge.

4) SLOW MONTGOMERY DOWN

Green Bay’s defense got a break when David Montgomery missed the game in Chicago, but the underrated running back will play tonight. He had 172 yards and averaged over five yards against the Packers last season. Granted, things have been different under Joe Barry, but Montgomery is a powerful back who’s tough to slow down if he gets even the smallest of openings. Look for the Bears to avoid nose tackle Kenny Clark and attack the edges. It’ll be up to Kingsley Keke and Dean Lowry to get off blocks.

5) NO POST-BYE BLUES

The Packers are 0-2 coming the bye week under coach Matt LaFleur, and neither of those losses was close. Granted, the 2019 49ers and the 2020 Bucs were a lot better than the 2021 Bears. Still, Green Bay’s lack of energy in both games had nothing to do with the caliber of the competition. You can be sure LaFleur thought about that a lot the past two weeks, and he probably addressed his concerns numerous times with his players. It’ll be interesting to see how they respond.

 

PREDICTION: Green Bay won by 10 in October, and there’s no reason to expect the results to be different tonight. That said, it would be a mistake to overlook the Bears. This will be their Super Bowl. They’ll also be healthier than they’ve been in weeks. Conversely, their opponent will be without seven starters, including three All-Pros and one Pro Bowler. And while the Packers have been able to overcome injuries all season, that doesn’t make it any less of a challenge.

The Packers are favored by 12, and while that’s probably fair, it’s just too many points to be giving in a nationally televised game between longtime division rivals. GREEN BAY 27-19 (Season record: 7-5 straight-up; 3-8-1 vs. the spread)

Michael Rodney

Packers Notes is the creation of Michael Rodney, who has been writing about the Green Bay Packers for over 30 years. His first blog, Packer Update, hit the internet in 2004. Before becoming a public educator, Rodney worked as a journalist for a couple of newspapers in his home state of New Jersey and covered the Philadelphia Eagles for WTXF-TV. He's had numerous articles on the Packers published, and he's been featured on both television and radio over the years.

4 thoughts on “Preview: Packers vs. Bears

  1. Liked your article about the AJ’s. With no Hicks to clog up the middle and cold weather anticipated this would be a great time to feature the run game. Keeping 12 from getting beat up will only help his toe continue to improve. Packers by 10.

  2. I’m not worried about the Packers winning, I’m worried about who is going to be injured next. Has it been basically every game that the Packers have lost a key player for multiple weeks? Sure seems like it.

    1. Yep, it was Billy Turner this time. Just unbelievable. Hopefully it’s not too bad of an injury. I still think they can win out with all of their backup OL but can they beat TB with this line? Doubt it.

  3. I can’t think of a week when we didn’t have a major injury to an important player. I thought we’d have some injuries after staying so healthy the past two seasons, but this is ridiculous.

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