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Week 6 Preview: Packers at Bears — October 17, 2021

Chicago Bears

It’s Packers Week in Chicago, and that means that it’s time for the annual tradition of getting charged up enough to run through a brick wall, usually only to be thoroughly beat down and deflated by halftime on Sunday. I don’t mean to be incredibly pessimistic, but it is what it is. The Bears have lost each of the last four meetings against the Packers, and it gets worse from there: Since Aaron Rodgers took over as the starting quarterback in 2008, the Bears are 5-22 (regular season and playoffs) against Green Bay.

But, this is the dawn of a new era in Chicago, at least when it comes to the most critical position on the field, right? That’s right, it’s Justin Fields’ time now, and he gets his first taste of the Bears-Packers rivalry this Sunday at Soldier Field. Fields will become just the fifth Bears rookie quarterback to start a game against the Packers, a stark reminder of how little the Bears have historically valued drafting and developing signal-callers.

But, how have previous rookie quarterbacks fared in their debuts against Green Bay? The last four rookies are 1-3 in the debut against the Packers. Here’s a quick breakdown. Prepare yourself for this.

  • Mitchell Trubisky (2017): L 16-23 — 21-for-35, 297 YDS, 1 TD, 0 INT
  • Kyle Orton (2005): W 19-17 — 6-for-17, 68 YDS, 0 TD, 1 INT
  • Gary Huff (1973): L 0-21 — 10-for-27, 110 YDS, 0 TD, 1 INT
  • Bobby Douglass (1969): L 3-21 — 5-for-13, 26 YDS, 0 TD, 2 INT

Yikes.

The Bears have done a great job of leaning on the running game to open up passing opportunities for Fields over the past two weeks. But, with the cupboard running extremely thin at the running back position with Damien Williams hitting the COVID IR, Justin Fields will have to do more than he has if the Bears want to have a shot at beating the Packers this week.

Here’s a fun stat to keep an eye on this week, and one that might go a long way towards the Bears beating Green Bay if they can do more of this:

Anyways, let’s get into the details, and we’ll talk some more about the Xs and Os in the ‘Three Bears’ section.

“Never Tell Me The Odds”

The DraftKings SportsBook lists the Bears (3-2) as 5.5-point underdogs against the Packers (4-1). Over/under: 44. More on the odds and ATS picks here.

Series History:

The Green Bay Packers lead the Chicago Bears 101-95-6 in the all-time series between the two storied rivals. The Packers have won each of the last four games, and as mentioned earlier, Matt Nagy is 1-5 against the Packers during his tenure in Chicago.

Game Time, Broadcast Info, Officiating Crew:

Location: Soldier Field, Chicago

Broadcast Info: Sunday, October 17 at noon CT on FOX-TV (Joe Davis, Greg Olsen, Pam Oliver), WBBM-AM 780 and WCFS-FM 105.9 (Jeff Joniak, Tom Thayer, Mark Grote), SportsUSA Radio (Larry Kahn, Mark Carrier)

Officials: Brad Rodgers (referee)

Expected Starters and Lineups:

CHICAGO BEARS (3-2, 1-0 NFC North)
POINTS FOR:
84 (16.8 PPG, 30th of 32 teams)
POINTS AGAINST:
100 (20.0 PPG, 7th of 32)

Offense
•   QB Justin Fields
•   RB Khalil Herbert
•   WRs Allen Robinson II, Darnell Mooney, Marquise Goodwin
•   TE Cole Kmet
•   LT Jason Peters, LG Cody Whitehair, C Sam Mustipher, RG James Daniels, RT Elijah Wilkinson

Unavailable: OL Teven Jenkins, RB/PR Tarik Cohen, RB David Montgomery, Damien Williams (COVID)

Defense
•   DT Akiem Hicks, NT Eddie Goldman, DE Bilal Nichols
•   OLBs Khalil Mack, Robert Quinn
•   ILBs Roquan Smith, Alec Ogletree
•   CBs Jaylon Johnson, Kindle Vildor
•   FS Eddie Jackson
•   SS Tashaun Gipson Sr.

Unavailable: LB Danny Trevathan

Specialists
•   Cairo Santos (kicker), Pat O’Donnell (punter, holder), Patrick Scales (long snapper), Jakeem Grant Sr. (punt returns), Jakeem Grant Sr. (kick returns)

Expected Starters and Lineups:

GREEN BAY PACKERS (4-1, 1-0 NFC North)
POINTS FOR:
 120 (24.0 PPG, 13th of 32)
POINTS AGAINST:
122 (24.4 PPG, 20th of 32)

Offense
•   QB Aaron Rodgers
•   RB Aaron Jones
•   WRs Davante Adams, Allen Lazard, Randall Cobb
•   TEs Robert Tonyan
•   LT Elgton Jenkins, LG Jon Runyan, C Josh Myers, RG Royce Newman, RT Billy Turner

Defense
•   DEs Dean Lowry, Kingsley Keke, NT Kenny Clark
•   OLBs Preston Smith, Rashan Gary, ILBs Krys Barnes, De’Vondre Campbell
•   CBs Kevin King, Eric Stokes
•   S Adrian Amos, Darnell Savage

Specialists
•   Mason Crosby (kicker), Corey Bojorquez (punter, holder), Hunter Bradley (long snapper), Kylin Hill, Amari Rodgers (kick and punt returns)

Three Bears

Justin Fields has to be a more significant factor in the offense this week. Fields owns the highest percentage of deep passes through Week 5, and we’re going to need to see some of that if the Bears have any hope of winning. Maybe even any hope of competing. There’s no reason the game plan can’t look more like it did against the Lions than against the Raiders.

With Jaire Alexander on the IR, Allen Robinson and Darnell Mooney will be going up against Kevin King and Eric Stokes. According to PFF, King and Stokes rank 60th (58.8) and 68th (55.5) in pass coverage grades among all cornerbacks. So, yes, run the ball to get the Packers working downhill, but please, for the love of all things holy, take some shots downfield.

Khalil Mack and his 5.0 sacks lead a Bears defensive unit with a league-best 18 sacks (3.6 per game), and Mack will need to lead the charge against a mediocre Packers pass protection this week. Green Bay is ranked 17th in sacks allowed this season with 11, and if the Bears want to slow down Green Bay’s passing attack, they’re going to need to get to Aaron Rodgers early and often on Sunday. If not, Aaron Rodgers and Davante Adams have a shot to slice up a bears secondary that ranks 12th in football in opponents passing yardage per game (228.6).

Khalil Herbert will be without his partner in crime last week, Damien Williams, if Williams can’t clear the COVID IR. Williams would need two negative tests at least 24 hours apart from each other to play on Sunday, and that’s probably not very likely at this point. Herbert was impressive as a complementary player in a two-headed backfield in last Sunday’s victory over the Raiders, rushing for 75 yards on 18 carries. The sixth-rounder will be the primary running back against the Packers, with Ryan Nall backing him up this weekend. Herbert will need to have another strong game for the Bears this week if they succeed.



Author: Patrick K. Flowers

Patrick is a Staff Writer at Bleacher Nation. You can follow him on Twitter @PatrickKFlowers.