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Keys to the game roundtable: Bears-Packers

Our staff says what they think it’s going to take for the Bears to get a win against their rivals.

Green Bay Packers v Minnesota Vikings Photo by Stephen Maturen/Getty Images

The Chicago Bears have bounced back in big ways this year, and Sunday is a chance to go full circle.

They are ending the season just as they started it, against the Green Bay Packers.

Week one was a disaster. It was like failing the back-to-school quiz on the first day to see what you remembered from before summer vacation.

Now, it’s a chance to ace the exit exam.

We’ve seen the improvement on defense and offense. We’ve seen growth from Justin Fields, even if it’s been uneven.

But the Packers have always been the bar. The bar they have failed to reach consistently and have fallen short of even when it appeared to be in Chicago’s favor.

It isn’t a gimme game. But it’s one that the fanbase wants and would be a ringing endorsement for a coach and quarterback who don’t have 100 percent of the fanbase behind them.

Sam: This is a big prove-it moment for the Chicago Bears. They’re facing their rival with a chance to keep them out of the playoffs and nothing but pride on the line for themselves. Chicago has been down, bad, for far too long in this series. This is a moment for Matt Eberflus and Justin Fields to go out there and cement themselves as pieces for 2024.

On defense, get after Jordan Love and make him uncomfortable. The Packers running game isn’t as strong as we’ve seen in recent years, but slowing down AJ Dillon and Aaron Jones will help keep Green Bay one-dimensional. Don’t let Jaylen Reed use his dangerous speed to burn the defensive backs.

On offense, use the ground game to gash the 28th-ranked run defense. Get Fields involved and use play action to move the ball downfield.

Lester: The Packers have one of the worst run defenses in the league, allowing 131.6 yards per game and 4.5 yards per attempt, so this game plan should be a simple one. Pound the rock. But give me some occasional first down play action because Green Bay will be stacking the box. I also need to see some read options so the threat of Fields running is on their mind. On defense, they need to force Jordan Love to beat them by taking away Green Bay’s running game. Love has thrown 11 interceptions this season, and in the seven games that he’s thrown a pick, the Packers are 1-6.

ECD: Last time the Bears played the Packers during the season opener, this defense was about as undisciplined of a unit as you could have. Since then, the defense has played as one of the absolute best units in all of football. I also imagine this Bears offense will prove to be more of a challenge than the backup led garbage that the Vikings trotted onto the field last week. Matt Eberflus and Justin Fields have yet to beat the Packers in their respective careers. It’s time to change that.

Josh: Run hard and use Fields’ arm to keep the Packers’ offense honest. They don’t need to pass for 250, which is good, so long as they get points on every drive. The defense needs to force Love to make mistakes and to hold strong against the run. Weirdly, this should be a game that “Bears football” makes winnable.

Taylor: I had a feeling and mentioned it during the schedule release that I believed we would see two very different teams in week one and week 18 for the Bears and Packers and I think that is very true. Packers defensive struggles have increased through the season but we have seen Jordan Love look more comfortable (although competition is questionable) At the end of the day, you must run the ball and stick with it opening other opportunities for Justin downfield. Rattle Jordan Love, in games where he is pressured and games where he makes mistakes early the Packers struggle. Please.

Jack R. Salo:

First of all on offense, the Bears need to protect Justin Fields. If they can keep his uniform clean all day, they should have success. Then it’s really important for Fields to make the right reads downfield. Can he hit DJ Moore on some more big plays? Those open up the short game as much as a good rushing attack does. Speaking of rushing, Keep doing what you’re doing with Khalil Herbert. It’s good to see him moving well again.

To be fair to Green Bay, it’s really hard to predict if they’re running it or throwing it.
Hats off to them there. But even when they throw, it’s usually short stuff. So on defense, keep the box well-stacked and guard the lateral stuff.
Even though he’s a bit older these days, I trust Eddie Jackson to play centerfield out there if the rest of the defense wants to cheat up.

Pour all your heart into this one. It’s only for pride, sure, but this is the type of game to put
A stamp on a lost season and say you haven’t seen the last of us.
Carry momentum into the offseason and reignite the rivalry.
Keep playing smart-yet-aggressive football. The Bears have had five or less penalties in their last four consecutive games.
Even though they only won the “penalty battle” in two of those four games, they’ve been
Really attacking well and not spending all day questioning
Stupid penalties. Last game of the season. Bear down.

What do you think is the key for the Bears to snap this losing streak and ride into the offseason feeling good?