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Week 2 game preview: Bears-Packers

The Bears are fresh off an upset win and their old nemesis is hosting off a bad loss, what could go wrong?

NFL: Green Bay Packers at Minnesota Vikings Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

I have a hard time getting excited for Bears-Packers games anymore.

It’s very difficult for me, actually.

I can’t talk trash, I can’t rib on the Packers fans I know because I have zero to back it up with.

Who the hell remembers the last time the Chicago Bears won, way back in 2018. My daughter will be three in January and the Bears have yet to beat the Packers in her lifetime.

OK, maybe 2018 wasn’t that long ago, but with everything that the last couple of years have thrown at us, it feels like forever ago.

I want the Bears to win just as bad as everyone else, but I also know what they’re up against. Oh and the stats for Matt LeFleur and Aaron Rodgers after a loss do not inspire a lot of confidence either.

But, there are no givens. I didn’t really expect the Bears to win last week either. This team is feeling good about themselves and what they did in a tough game.

Can they do it again?

Green Bay Packers

SB Nation site: Acme Packing Company

Record: 0-1

Last week: 23-7 loss to the Minnesota Vikings

Game day, time, TV: Sunday, 7:20 p.m. CT, NBC

Betting line: According to DraftKings Sportsbook, the Packers are 10-point favorites. The over/under is set at 42.5.

Bears all-time record against: 94-102-6 regular season, 1-1 postseason

Historical meetings: Back in week two of the 2004 season, the Bears new head coach Lovie Smith took his 0-1 Bears team up to Lambeau Field for his first Bears-Packers game.

If you recall, Smith famously said in his opening press conference that his teams would have three goals: 1) beat the Packers, 2) win the division and 3) win the Super Bowl.

Chicago fell behind early as the Packers took the opening kick and settled for a field goal. The Bears started shakily with a punt on their first drive and a Rex Grossman interception on the second.

After Ryan Longwell missed a 45-yard field goal, the Bears took over at their own 35 yardline and drove down to finish with a Grossman to Bryan Johnson 11-yard touchdown pass.

Mike Green intercepted Favre on the next drive. The Bears went three and out but then Mike Brown recovered an Ahmad Green fumble (forced by Brian Urlacher) and returned it 95 yards for another score.

Chicago opened the third quarter with a Thomas Jones drive. He caught a seven-yard pass and then they handed him the ball five straight times, including a run of 54 yards, culminating in a one-yard TD run.

That was it for scoring, the Bears intercepted Favre again and won 21-10.

Last meeting: Week 14 of last season, also on Sunday Night Football, at Lambeau, the Bears took an early 10-0 lead on a field goal and a Justin Fields-to-Jakeem Grant 46-yard touchdown.

The Packers responded with an Aaron Rodgers-to-Allen Lazard touchdown and a 55-yard pick six by Rasul Douglas.

The Bears subsequently scored on a 54-yard pass to Damiere Byrd and then a 97-yard Jakeem Grant punt return TD.

Rodgers responded with a 38-yard TD pass to Devante Adams but the Bears took a 27-21 lead into halftime with a Cairo Santos field goal.

Unfortunately for Matt Nagy and the Bears, the NFL plays four quarters. The Packers scored on three straight drives, aided by a Chicago fumble. The Bears managed nine yards on their first four second half drives.

The Bears lost 45-30.

Injury report: The Packers listed seven players on their Wednesday injury report. Four of those players were limited or did not participate.

Limited participation - T David Bakhtari (knee), G/T Elgton Jenkins (knee), WR Allen Lazard (ankle)

Did not participate - G Jon Runyan (concussion)

Offense: After such an abysmal showing last week, the Packers rank 30th in points and 19th in yards.

Their passing offense ranks 24th and their rushing offense ranks 21st.

I don’t think I need to tell you that it would be very hard to believe that they would stay that low-ranked.

If for only one week, Bears fans can say that their offense has outscored the Packers on the season.

Anyway, Aaron Rodgers (64.7 pct cmp/195 yds/0 TD/1 INT) is still at the helm, getting familiar with his new weapons. Last week his top targets were RB AJ Dillion (5 rec/46 yds/0 TD), WR Romeo Doubs (4/37/0), RB Aaron Jones (3/27/0), TE Robert Tonyan (3/36/0) and rookie WR Christian Watson (2/34/0).

Randall Cobb (2/14/0) and Sammy Watkins (3/18/0) are also lurking and could get more involved this week.

Dillon (10 att/45 yds/1 TD) and Jones (5/49/0) are a formidable running tandem. Both are capable pass catchers as well.

Down two offensive line starters, Rodgers was sacked four times. It’s a little early yet, but there’s a chance they’ll be without Bakhtiari and Jenkins again.

Defense: The Packers defense, with just one game of sample size, ranks 20th in points allowed and 25th in yards.

They rank 24th in passing yards allowed and 21st in rushing yards allowed.

Coming into the season there were lofty expectations for Joe Barry’s defense. Some analysts even said that this defense would “carry” the offense now that Adams is gone.

This is a loaded unit, even if they struggled last week.

Rashan Gary, Rasul Douglas, Darnell Savage Jr., Kenny Clark, Jaire Alexander and first round pick Quay Walker are all names you know and who have haunted the Bears at one time or another (Save for Quay since he’s new).

And that’s all without mentioning De’Vondre Campbell (11 tkls last week) and Preston Smith (9 sks in 2021).

Notice I didn’t list stats for most of the guys because with just one not-so-good performance under their belts, the stats aren’t really worth getting into. These were all game wreckers a year ago though.

Key matchups: Should Elgton Jenkins and David Bahktari not be able to go, that creates favorable matchups for Robert Quinn, Dominique Robinson and Trevis Gipson.

Last week, it was evident that the Packers knew their OL was their weak spot. They used a lot of quick, short passes and tried to rely on making guys miss or break tackles. The Bears secondary and linebackers will need to take Matt Eberflus’s coaching to heart this week and focus on wrapping up and swarming to the ballcarrier.

On offense, Darnell Mooney is likely to see a ton of Jaire Alexander. A quick look at highlights from last week and it appears to me that the Vikings had success getting Justin Jefferson in the slot, lining him up in the backfield or in a bunch formation and springing him loose when defenders were confused about who had who.

Now, the Bears don’t have a weapon that can do what Justin Jefferson can, but Luke Getsy should get creative with how he uses Mooney and where he lines him up to try and get favorable matchups.

Key stats

  • The Packers are 9-0 in the regular season after a loss under Matt LeFleur. Aaron Rodgers has thrown 22 touchdowns and just one interception.
  • The Bears have lost six straight in the series, tying their longest losing streak in the last 10 years, when they lost six straight, including the NFC Championship game between 2011 (last game of the 2010 season) and the 2012 season.
  • The margin of those defeats were by an average of 12.5 points (all Matt Nagy games)
  • Dick Jauron, Lovie Smith, Marc Trestman and Matt Nagy all covered the spread in their first Green Bay matchup. Smith was the only one who won the game outright.
  • Last season, Justin Fields completed 56.7 percent of his passes for 398 yards, three touchdowns and three interceptions. Green Bay was the only team he faced twice. He added 117 yards rushing in those two games.

Can the Bears pull off back-to-back upsets? What will it take to beat the vaunted Packers on the road?