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Keys to the game: Bears-Packers

Our staff unlocks their keys to the game for the Bears to beat the Packers.

SPORTS-FBN-BEARS-SCENARIOS-TB Chris Sweda/Chicago Tribune/Tribune News Service via Getty Images

Our crew gets together weekly and shares their keys to the game for week one.

The Chicago Bears take on the Green Bay Packers to open the season. It’s bound to be a fun one with a chance at a new era of the rivalry.

Here is what our crew had to say.

Sam: Looking at this match-up and with the unknown of Jordan Love, to me the key to this game is going to be seeing how the improved Bears front seven can slow down the Green Bay rushing offense and pressure Love. Last season, the Chicago run defense was abysmal and it didn’t look great at times in the preseason, but that’s preseason.

For the Bears’ offense, it’s going to be about testing the Packers’ safeties, which are their defensive weakness. Take some deep shots and really test them early.

ECD: Offense - Get off to a fast start, score touchdowns early and often, then never back down on the throttle. It all comes down to if an effective passing game can develop and take control before the first half is over. Justin Fields is capable of lighting up the scoreboard in numerous ways. Now, especially with DJ Moore and his past success when playing against the Packers, it’s time to see his arm become the reason why the Bears dominate this matchup. Once the passing game is popping, the Bears can then expose what has always been a soft run defense. The Packers aren’t a team that can withstand a firm punch whatsoever; moreover, they will crack the second they feel pressure. Make those cheese lovin’ trolls pay dearly for the bluster coming out from their mouths.

Defense - Make their world know Pain. In order to have the right to rush the passer, they have to shut down the Packers’ ground game. Matt LaFleur’s offensive philosophies depend entirely on setting a physical tone within the opening quarter, through the run and screen games. They will definitely look at using designed QB runs to get Jordan Love going as well. Shut down Aaron Jones, and lock down their young receiving corps. I do not think Jordan Love can improvise nearly as well as Justin Fields can. The front seven for the Bears has been overhauled completely. Time to get their money’s worth.

Special Teams - Play error-free football. The biggest threat in Green Bay comes in the form of their All-Pro returning specialist, Keisean Nixon. Do not allow for the Packers’ offense to be given a short field continuously. Execute the routine stuff flawlessly; i.e. punt the ball accurately and pin them deep; make the field goals when needed, and minimize the dumb penalties. Keisean Nixon ain’t Devin Hester. Don’t allow the Packers any chances to play pretend.

Bonus - Don’t commit any obvious and dumb penalties. I’m already expecting a few “WTF” moments and bad calls from Craig Wrolstad and the other dorks who routinely officiate this rivalry over recent years. Don’t give them anything flagrant or painfully stupid to call.

Josh: HITS.

Help Fields by keeping the pocket clean, Intercept Love at least once, Threaten all levels of the field with the pass, and Stuff the run.

Lester: This game’s main narrative is surrounding the quarterbacks, but if the Bears can’t stop the run, they’ll probably leave with the loss.

In their two matchups last year, the Bears allowed 378 yards rushing, so if Gren Bay’s A.J. Dillon and Aaron Jones go off again, it’ll make life easier for their inexperienced QB, Jordan Love.

I would expect the Bears to try and play it straight defensively and not stack the box, which will aid them in disguising their coverages, but that puts a lot of pressure on Chicago’s revamped defensive line. Bears nose tackle Andrew Billings needs to have a good game, and their rookie d-tackles must play smart and disciplined football.

Jack: On offense, the Bears have to succeed with play-action. This Packers defense allowed the sixth-fewest passing yards in 2022, so straight drop-backs may be ill-advised. The Bears have a wealth of options to run the ball, so use that to your advantage in freezing linebackers.

On defense, you need at least a sack per quarter. Yannick Ngakoue and DeMarcus Walker were signed here for a reason, but I’d also love to see the likes of Jaquan Brisker and Kyler Gordon get involved in the pass rush.

What do you see as the keys to the game?