It’s rivalry week for the Chicago Bears as the Green Bay Packers pay a visit to Soldier Field.
Though they play each other twice a year, this matchup comes with some extra spice. Both teams have 786 wins in franchise history, tied for the most of all time. If the Packers win, they’ll have sole possession of the all-time wins record. In fact, it will be the first time ever that a team other than the Bears has the most wins in NFL history.
Unfortunately for Bears fans, this matchup comes at a time when Justin Fields is banged up and two of the team’s best players — Darnell Mooney and Eddie Jackson — suffered season-ending injuries.
But all is not lost, as the Packers have proven to be little better than their hated rivals this season, and find themselves with just four wins so far this year, only one more than the Bears. Neither team is statistically eliminated from playoff contention yet, but most analysts have already shelved them anyway.
There may not be any playoff implications to this game, pride is on the line and division games have a knack for surprising people, so let’s figure out what the Bears need to do to get a win and protect their reign as the all-time winningest team for at least one more week.
Keep Aaron Rodgers out of rhythm
It’s a story Bears fans have seen too many times. If Rodgers can operate his gameplan the way he wants to, he will pick apart the defense with ease. The Bears defensive line must find ways to apply pressure and knock Rodgers off schedule. If they can rattle him, they can keep him and the entire offense from finding a rhythm.
Slow down WR Christian Watson
Rookie wide receiver Christian Watson has had himself a month, recording six touchdowns in three games, thanks in large part to his incredible speed. The Bears secondary won’t have to worry about him leaving them in a spin cycle with his route running, but they must make sure they take good tackling angles. Better yet, don’t let him get his hands on the ball.
Stop the run
The last time these two teams played, running backs Aaron Jones and AJ Dillon combined for 193 rushing yards. Unacceptable. The defensive front-seven has to step up at home against their rivals and bring their best performance to date. Team captain Justin Jones and undrafted rookie linebacker Jack Sanborn need to have stellar performances, as they’ve proven to be two of the few bright spots remaining on this defensive squad.
Justin Fields has to be Superman… again
Need I say more? After averaging nearly thirty points per game for over the last month with Fields under center, the offense, led by Trevor Siemian, came to a halt against the New York Jets in Week 12. Fields is back this week, and the Packers’ defense has been torn to shreds by mobile quarterbacks (Jalen Hurts posted a 100 yard rushing performance in just one quarter against Green Bay last week). If fully healthy, we could see yet another record-breaking performance from him, and frankly anything less than that may not be enough to get the win.
The Bears are in a tough spot. Mooney and Jackson are both done for the year. Rookie defensive backs Kyler Gordon and Jaquan Brisker have been sidelined since Week 11 with concussions. Running back Khalil Herbert is on injured reserve. Both the starting right tackle and the backup are injured and limited in practice. It would take a Herculean team effort to beat the Packers this week, even if Fields has a remarkable performance. It pains me to say it, but I have to pick the Packers to win, 38 to 34.