The Green Bay Packers (0-1) and Chicago Bears (1-0) will renew the NFL’s most-played rivalry when the teams meet for the 205th time on Sunday night at Lambeau Field.
Who has the advantage in Green Bay’s home opener?
Football is a complicated game, but finding the reasons for winning individual matchups between teams each week is often a straightforward exercise. What wins games? Excellent quarterback play, winning the line of scrimmage, taking care of the football and taking it away, controlling the important situations and overcoming or taking advantage of the injury situation.
In our weekly preview, Zach Kruse of Packers Wire and Alyssa Barbieri of Bears Wire went deep into the matchup to determine who has the advantage at the key factors for winning football games in the NFL.
Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers (12)
Bears Wire: Justin Fields had a rough first half against the 49ers, where he completed just 3-of-9 passes for 19 yards and an ugly interception. But Fields turned things around with an impressive second-half performance, where he completed 5-of-8 passes for 102 yards and two touchdowns for a 145.83 passer rating. Fields extended plays with his legs, including escaping a collapsing pocket and finding a wide-open Dante Pettis for a 51-yard score on a scramble drill. It’s those kinds of plays that we can probably expect to see against the Packers as the Bears face another talented defense. Fields looked confident and composed despite the circumstances, and he’ll be looking to take another step forward in this offense against Green Bay.
Packers Wire: Aaron Rodgers struggled operating behind a makeshift offensive line and throwing to new receivers in Week 1. He played indecisively from the pocket and made a few uncharacteristic mistakes, including two turnovers. He’s still the four-time NFL MVP entering his fourth season in the Matt LaFleur offense, but an adjustment period was expected after losing Davante Adams. Throw in injuries to both offensive tackles and Allen Lazard, and the task was a tough one in the season opener. Expect him to bounce back. The Packers still have a sizable advantage at this key position in Week 2. Rodgers has thrown 14 touchdown passes and zero interceptions in his last four games against the Bears.
Line of scrimmage
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Bears Wire: The Bears offensive line struggled mightily in the first half against the 49ers, but they got better as the game wore on. But there are questions about whether they can protect Fields against a dominant Packers defensive front. Rookie left tackle Braxton Jones will face another big test going against Packers edge rushers Rashan Gary and Preston Smith in Week 2. Lucas Patrick will make his return to Green Bay, where he’s expected to once again rotate with Teven Jenkins at right guard as Patrick recovers from a broken right thumb.
On defense, the Bears could have an advantage against a Packers offensive line that struggled to protect Aaron Rodgers in the opener. Chicago’s pass rush has an opportunity to get after Rodgers, including rookie Dominique Robinson, who had 1.5 sacks in his first NFL start. Stopping the run is going to be key for this defensive line, something they struggled with last week against the 49ers, allowing 176 rushing yards. With Aaron Jones and AJ Dillon on deck, they need to clean that up.
Packers Wire: It’s tough to know where the Packers will be along the offensive line on Sunday night. Three preferred starters – David Bakhtiari, Elgton Jenkins and Jon Runyan Jr. – are questionable. In Week 1, the right side of the offensive line (Jake Hanson and Royce Newman) really struggled, especially in pass pro. Jenkins practiced fully on Friday, and his return at right tackle would do wonders for stabilizing the entire group. The defensive front – one of the foundations of this team – did well to pressure Kirk Cousins but looked a little leaky in run defense (allowed 4.5 yards per carry) in the opener. This is a talented, deep group with a star at edge rusher (Rashan Gary) and defensive tackle (Kenny Clark). Winning the line of scrimmage is of paramount importance to the Packers in 2022.
(AP Photo/Matt Ludtke)
Bears Wire: Chicago won the turnover battle against San Francisco in Week 1, which was key in their upset win. Fields committed an egregious interception in the first half, but he remained clean after that in less-than-ideal weather circumstances. The Bears defense forced two turnovers in their debut under Matt Eberflus, including a fumble recovery by rookie safety Jaquan Brisker and a game-sealing interception in the fourth quarter by safety Eddie Jackson. If Chicago has any chance at an upset, they’re going to need to win the turnover battle again.
Packers Wire: Incredibly, the Packers turned the ball over twice – both on odd plays from Aaron Rodgers – in the season opener. Both came under pressure. The Packers have been one of the best at avoiding turnovers in the Matt LaFleur era, but pressure on the quarterback can turn even Rodgers into a giveaway machine. Remember, the Packers have won the turnover battle 13 to 1 in the last six games against the Bears, all wins.
(AP Photo/Matt Ludtke)
Bears Wire: The Bears struggled on third down both on offense and defense in Week 1. The offense converted 35.7% of their third downs, which ranks 20th, and the defense allowed third down conversions on 47.06% (24th) against the 49ers. Granted, they were in the middle of a monsoon. But third down will be key in this game. The offense needs to sustain drives and the defense needs to get off the field on third down. Chicago got off to an impressive start in the red zone both on offense and defense against the 49ers. The Bears offense scored touchdowns on both red zone opportunities (100%) while Chicago’s defense allowed just one touchdown against San Francisco (33.33%), which ranks fifth in the NFL.
Packers Wire: The Packers offense struggled situationally in Week 1, converting just 3-of-9 third downs and both fourth downs, including a 4th-and-goal from the 1-yard line. The offense was also 1-of-3 scoring touchdowns in the red zone (both fourth-down failures came in the red zone). Last year’s team struggled at times in the red zone, and now Davante Adams is gone. This could be a work in progress on important downs. The defense was much better, holding the Vikings to just four conversions on 13 attempts on third down and allowing just one touchdown on three red zone attempts. The lone touchdown came on fourth down.
(AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)
Bears Wire: Chicago has remained pretty clean on the injury front, which is impressive given the conditions they played with in the opener. Rookie receiver Velus Jones Jr. looked like he was going to make his NFL debut as he recovers from a hamstring injury. But he appears to have suffered a setback and is officially doubtful for Sunday night’s game. Outside of that, the biggest “injury” concern involves Lucas Patrick and whether he’ll be able to move back to center. In Week 1, he wore a club and rotated at right guard with Teven Jenkins. It certainly feels like we could be in for another rotation this week.
Packers Wire: The Packers listed four starters on offense as questionable for Sunday night: left tackle David Bakhtiari, right tackle Elgton Jenkins, receiver Allen Lazard and left guard Jon Runyan Jr. The offensive line could be in shambles if the three are all inactive. The passing game and run game could really use Lazard, who is Aaron Rodgers’ most trusted target and a top run blocker. The guess here is that Lazard has the best chance to play. Runyan is still trying to get through concussion protocol.
Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports
Judging the Packers off of only Week 1 would make this matchup look a little more even, but many of the factors favor the Packers when looking at the big picture. Aaron Rodgers is more likely to outplay Justin Fields. The Packers could be far more disruptive at the line of scrimmage. Turnovers almost always favor the Packers at Lambeau Field. The Bears aren’t incapable of pulling off another upset, especially considering the current state of the offense and especially the offensive line, but the Packers are big favorites for a reason. The guess here is that a bounceback performance arrives for Matt LaFleur’s team in primetime.