Sunday night marks the return of one of the NFL’s premier rivalries.
The Chicago Bears look to make it a 2-0 start after their “upset” win over the 49ers in week one. Meanwhile, the Green Bay Packers are trying to bounce back from a rough opening week loss to the Vikings.
So before the teams take the field, let’s compare their respective position groups to see who has the advantage in what groups.
Players to Watch: Justin Fields (CHI), Aaron Rodgers (GB)
Rodgers didn’t look…great...in his week one appearance against the Vikings. Not only did all the “Rodgers has no one to throw to” talk from the offseason like pretty dead-on, but Rodgers’ usually stellar o-line wasn’t all that stellar, allowing four sacks for 33 yards.
Statistically, you could very well make the argument Fields had a better week one. Plus, you take out that rough first half, and Fields’ stats would look better too. Once the second half rolled around and the offensive staff got Fields moving around more, he looked like a completely different QB.
Still, you gotta think Rodgers is gonna figure things out at some point, and Sunday night football against the Bears would just make perfect sense. The gap might be closing, but it isn’t closed just yet. Advantage to Rodgers and his much more proven track record, especially against the Bears.
Players to Watch: David Montgomery (CHI), Khalil Herbert (CHI), Aaron Jones (GB), AJ Dillon (GB)
Montgomery didn’t look like his usual self for the Bears in week one. His 1.5 yards per carry is an ugly number to look at. It’s still early, so maybe don’t hit the panic button just yet, but because of that, the advantage is going to the Packers here. Jones didn’t put up a ton of yards or a touchdown, but still ran for 9.8 yards a carry. Dillon also had a decent game in the YPC category, finishing with a tick of 4.5 as well as a TD.
So between the good production from those two, and Montgomery looking out of sorts, Packers earn the advantage here.
Players to Watch: Darnell Mooney (CHI), Equanimeous St. Brown (CHI), Christian Watson (GB), Romeo Doubs (GB)
Everyone has most likely seen that stat about GB receivers putting up less yards than Devante Adams in week one, right?
Long story short, the Packers might actually have a worse WR corps than the Bears. It’s not by much, but the Bears at least have Mooney, who had the best season last year out of any receiver on either squad. It’ll also be interesting to see how the Bears’ receivers look once they play in some decent weather (which isn’t looking like this Sunday). So between the Packers group actually playing in good conditions and not looking substantially better than a Bears group playing in not-so-good conditions, plus the Bears having the top receiver in both groups, Bears get the nod here.
Players to Watch: Cole Kmet (CHI), Robert Tonyan (GB)
Tonyan is trying to replicate his breakout 2020 season where he caught 11 touchdowns, while Kmet is still looking for his breakout year.
One game in, and Tonyan looks closer to that goal, even though neither had a great game. Tonyan was able to reel in three receptions for 36 yards, while Kmet wasn’t able to catch his one target.
Again, it’s not like Tonyan had a spectacular game by any means, but the fact that he did actually put yards up, and his more proven track record, gives him an advantage over Kmet.
Players to Watch: Teven Jenkins (CHI), Cody Whitehair (CHI), Josh Myers (GB), Royce Newman (GB)
Maybe not. Probably not. But they are healthier right now. The Packers will likely be out two starters Sunday night, David Bakhtiari and Elgton Jenkins, and Jon Runyan, another starter, left week one with a concussion, so his status is unknown as well. The Packers definitely felt these absences, as Aaron Rodgers ended up on the ground four times week one for a loss of 33 yards.
Meanwhile, the Bears line looked pretty decent against a good San Francisco defense. It’s true that Justin Fields rolled out a lot, basically negating pocket protection, but still, things looked a lot better than a year ago.
If both lines were fully healthy, the Packers would easily take this category. But due to some pretty significant injuries, the Bears actually look better positioned in terms of their o-line.
Players to Watch: Robert Quinn (CHI), Dominique Robinson (CHI), Kenny Clark (GB), Dean Lowry (GB)
The Bears d-line looked good week one. Really good. Rookie Robinson started his career off with a bang, finishing with 1.5 sacks and seven total tackles, and the line as a whole just made Trey Lance’s life hard the entire game.
No Packers’ lineman really stood out. Clark finished with a tackle-for-loss, but if Kirk Cousins’ stat line is anything to go by, he was mostly unbothered during the game. Point Bears.
Players to Watch: Roquan Smith (CHI), Nicholas Morrow (CHI), De’Vondre Campbell (GB), Rashan Gary (GB)
The Packers’ linebackers actually had a decent enough game. Campbell led the team in TOT with 11 and had a tackle-for-loss. Meanwhile, Gary was third in the TOT category with seven.
The Bears’ LBs didn’t put up significantly better stats, but they were a part of the better defensive unit as a whole. It’s a close call talent-wise, but based on week one results, it’s hard to lean GB.
Players to Watch: Eddie Jackson (CHI), Jaquan Brisker (CHI), Jaire Alexander (GB), Eric Stokes (GB)
Brisker and Jackson looked like an absolutely deadly duo in the secondary. In his NFL debut, Brisker filled up the stat sheet with four tackles, a fumble recovery, and a tackle-for-loss. Meanwhile, Jackson was able to snag a late-game interception to help seal the win.
Stokes and Alexander both made five total-tackles each, but were also both part of a Packers’ secondary that got absolutely lit up by Justin Jefferson. Luckily for them, the Bears don’t have a Justin Jefferson, so things should be a little better in those regards.
Still, it’s hard to ignore just how good Brisker and Jackson looked together, and that’s not mentioning some stellar play from Jaylon Johnson and a decent debut from Kyler Gordon. The Packers’ secondary could have a nice bounce-back game, but it’s hard to bet against the Bears’ group after what we saw week one.
Players to Watch: Trenton Gill (CHI), Cairo Santos (CHI), Mason Crosby (GB), Pat O’Donnell (GB)
Of all the things that went wrong for the Pack against the Vikings, special teams play wasn’t one of them. The returning game wasn’t stellar, and Crosby only attempted one PAT (which he made), but neither of those aspects were bad. Plus, former Bear O’Donnell had a good game punting, sticking three of his four punts within the 20-yard line.
Trestan Ebner had a good returning game for Chicago, averaging 24 yards per return. But the weather really wreaked havoc on the rest of the special teams. Cairo Santos went one-for-three on PATs, and rookie punter Gill got flagged for using a towel to dry off the field before a FG attempt.
You can’t really get a good feel for the Bears’ special teams based off of the Flood Bowl, but the Packers’ group looked about as reliable as ever. Until we get a look at the Bears’ special teams in decent condition, the Packers earn the advantage ahead of Sunday night.
Matt Eberflus and Matt LaFleur sit on different sides of the defensive/offensive-minded coach divide, so they’re a little hard to compare head-to-head. Still, it feels like Eberflus has done a better job getting his entire squad to come together, especially after an offseason full of change. Meanwhile, there’s always plenty of drama surrounding the Packers, specifically Aaron Rodgers.
But LaFleur is the much more proven of the two, as the Packers have been one of the most successful regular season teams during his tenure. The Bears staff might’ve had a good debut, and the Packers’ staff a not-so-great start to the season, but we’ll go with the proven track record here and give the Packers’ staff the advantage.
Bears: Five Advantages
- Wide Receivers
- Offensive Line
- Defensive Line
Packers: Five Advantages
- Running Backs
- Tight Ends
- Special Teams