The 7-3 Green Bay Packers will face off with the 5-5 Chicago bears on Sunday Night Football this upcoming weekend. The Packers are currently 8.5-point favorites over the Bears. Both squads have had their recent struggles. The Packers have lost 2 of their last 3, their lone win in that stretch coming by way of a 1-win Jacksonville Jaguars team which they had trouble beating. The Bears struggles have been greater than that of the Packers. Chicago started the season 5-1, but their success faded after dropping their last 5 games in an unconvincing fashion.
For the division rivals, this marks the first time in nearly an entire calendar year that they have played on the same field. The two foes last met on December 15th of last year, a game that Green Bay won 21-13 despite a late comeback attempt from Matt Nagy’s crew. At the time, the Bears were hovering around .500, while the packers had only 3 losses on the season. The record column tells us these two teams are similar to the teams we saw in December of last season but watching them on play this season has been anything but similar. So just what is it that has changed? Lets take a look at the individual units.
We begin with the most different group of the 4, the Packers offense. This group shot out of the gate in 2020, scoring 37+ points in each of its first 3 games. The Packers currently rank 3rd in points per game and 7th in yards per game. The resurgent offense has gone from a middle of the road offense which stalled for long periods of games in 2019, to a very competent offense which has mostly carried the Packers to their 7-3 start. The Packers new offense seems to be simply clicking better under Matt LaFleur in year two, and Aaron Rodgers is playing better within it. Rodgers is currently a frontrunner for MVP.
Personnel changes are not all that prevalent in this group from last year. The Packers said goodbye to Bryan Bulaga in free agency and released Jimmy Graham who ended up on the Chicago Bears. New Starters Robert Tonyan and Lucas Patrick have filled those voids well.
This is a group that has been elite since obtaining Khalil Mack in 2018. The Bears currently have the 6th ranked scoring defense in the NFL, a slight decline from their 4th place finish in 2019. While this group is a little bit behind on paper this season, that could be cause by just how poorly their offense has played this season. Chicago has seen a big boost from Akiem Hicks being healthy this season, after missing much of last season due to injury. It is worth mentioning that Hicks is questionable to pay in Sunday’s game. The bears return a very similar unit personnel wise as well. This is a well-coached unit with good players. The Packers offense versus the Bears defense should be a case of strength versus strength.
The Packers defense currently ranks 12th in yards allowed, 6 spots better than it did in 2019. The Packers defense in 2019 was far and away a better unit than their current squad however. Why? The 2019 Packers defense featured a much better red zone defense and forced a lot more turnovers, and therefore finished 9th in points allowed. The current Packers defense ranks 17th in points allowed, hovering around league average. The Packers saw the departures of starters Tramon Williams and Blake Martinez in addition to role player Kyler Fackrell in free agency. Meanwhile the Packers added Christian Kirksey and a host of rookies to fill the void.
As I referenced earlier, the Packers Offense versus the Bears defense is a battle of strengths. The Bears offense versus the Packers defense is the opposite, a battle of weaknesses. Luckily for the Packers, similarly to last year…the Bears do not do anything particularly well on offense. New starting quarterback Nick Foles has struggled to get into his former rhythm with Chicago. On the ground, the Bears average just 3.6 yards per carry. This offense’s best asset is its defense’s ability to put them in advantageous situations. Newcomers Jimmy Graham and Nick Foles just haven’t been enough to carry this offense over the hill.
With Nick Foles doubtful for this game and Mitchell Trubisky returning from injury, Matt Nagy has named Trubisky the starter for Sunday night. While Trubisky has not shown to be a competent quarterback as of late, he may provide a spark for this stale offense.
I think there is a clear reason why the Packers are favored to win this game by more than a touchdown. The Bears offense should not present the Packers with anything they cannot handle. I think Green Bay grabs a few turnovers in this game and controls the ball on the other side. While this potent Bears defense may slow down Aaron Rodgers and company, I still see the Packers having some success, especially given that the Bears are susceptible to not moving the ball much on offense.
I think the Packers get an early lead in this one and are forced to fight off a late comeback attempt. As a division rival, the Bears are going to play them tough. Green Bay takes this one 30-24.