As I wrote on Thursday, Packers week in Chicago usually marches to the beat of the ‘The Imperial March’ from ‘Star Wars,’ but this week feels different. It might not be different when the dust settles at Lambeau late Sunday night, but it feels drastically different.
The Packers are still the Packers. And after watching last night’s battle between Patrick Mahomes and Justin Herbert, Justin Fields and the Bears are still, well, the Bears until proven otherwise. So, to sit here and call a guaranteed victory over the Packers (like Travis Gipson did this week) would be foolish and a disservice to the reader.
Still, there are plenty of reasons to be optimistic that this might be different than the typical dreaded trip to Green Bay we’re used to. One of them is Matt Eberflus’ feelings about the game. Eberflus called their meeting with the Packers just another chapter in the book their writing, one way or another. Previous Bears head coaches have been more rah-rah about Packers week, but I think Eberflus has the right idea. Just prepare for the opponent, and beat them. Eberflus and the Bears know that no one is giving them a shot, and they fed off of that doubt last week.
Just ask Roquan Smith:
Rodgers called Smith the difference maker for Chicago, and said he would have preferred to see the Bears trade the All-Pro linebacker during his training camp hold-in.
“He’s a difference maker, he’s a sideline to sideline linebacker, he’s an excellent rusher against backs on his blitzes, he can cover,” Rodgers said of Smith (via Brad Biggs). “He can do it all. He’s one of the top guys at his position, for sure. I like the way he goes about his business. He’s very kind of low-key classy and plays hard to the whistle. Every now and then, you hear a little trash talk, which he’s good at. Wouldn’t have minded if he’d gotten traded in training camp, but a lot of respect for him.”
If Roquan can live up to Rodgers’ evaluation, or even his Week 1 performance (nine tackles, 0.5 sacks), the Bears will be in good shape this weekend.
If the Bears can stay within their HITS principles and play the clean, aggressive, and opportunistic style of football that we saw last week, they might surprise some more folks on Sunday night.
Chicago Bears (1-0, T-1st NFC North) at Green Bay Packers (0-1, T-3rd NFC North) – NBC (Mike Tirico, Chris Collinsworth, Melissa Stark); WBBM 780 AM, 105.9 FM (Jeff Joniak, Tom Thayer, Mark Grote); Westwood One (Ryan Radtke, Mike Golic); Universo (Miguel Gurwitz, Rolando Cantu)
Kickoff Time: 7:20 p.m. CT
Site: Lambeau Field, Green Bay, WI
Referee: Craig Wrolstad
Odds: GB -9.5, O/U 41.5 (via DraftKings Sports Book)
We Got $5 On It
Note: All listed bets were placed on Draft Kings Sportsbook
Lu’s Plays (Season Record & Net Winnings: 0-2, $-10.00)
- Same-Game Parlay: Justin Fields OVER 174.5 passing yards, Darnell Mooney anytime TD scorer (+525) — Going 0-2 last week is exactly why I was hesitant to share my plays. But let’s do it again because we’re having recreational fun here. Lost in the ocean the Bears played in last week was that Mooney was a non-factor who snagged just one catch for three yards. I don’t think Mooney or his quarterback is taking that lightly. Maybe the OVER 174.5 passing yards feels overzealous after Fields threw for just 121 in last week’s win. But I’m feeling bold, and 175 passing yards appears to be reachable. A $5 wager would pay out $31.25, which could buy you all sorts of encased meats from our friends north of the border.
Patrick’s Plays (Season Record & Winnings: 1-1, $16.50)
- Same-Game Parlay: Bears Spread +9.5, Bears OVER 16.5 total points (+190) — Do I think that the Bears will win this one? Maybe. Do I think they’ll make it a close game regardless? Yes. So, I have the Bears covering the spread and scoring over 16.5 points. A $5 bet wins you $14.50 on this play.
- Same-Game Parlay: David Montgomery anytime TD scorer, David Montgomery OVER 59.5 rushing yards (+475) — Week 1 was a week to forget for David Montgomery, but I don’t see a repeat clunker coming for Monty. Montgomery over 59.5 yards and a touchdown against the Packers at nice plus odds seemed like a no-brainer for me. A $5 bet will win you $28.75 on this play.
You can get in on this action at DraftKings:
But there are a number of other official gambling apps you can use (with some juicy promos) right here.
Starting QBs and Projected Game Stats
Packers: Aaron Rodgers: 22/34, 252 passing yards, 2 TD, 1 INT; 2 carries, 8 rushing yards
Bears: Justin Fields: 19/31, 211 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT; 7 carries, 35 rushing yards
Bears Projected Starters
• QB Justin Fields
• RB David Montgomery
• WRs Darnell Mooney, Equanimeous St. Brown, Dante Pettis
• TE Cole Kmet
• LT Braxton Jones, LG Cody Whitehair, C Sam Mustipher, RG Teven Jenkins, RT Larry Borom
• LDE Al-Quadin Muhammad, LDT Angelo Blackson, RDT Justin Jones, RDE Robert Quinn
• SAM Nicholas Morrow, MIKE Matt Adams, WILL Roquan Smith
• LCB Jaylon Johnson, RCB Kyler Gordon
• FS Eddie Jackson, SS Jaquan Brisker
• Cairo Santos (kicker), Trenton Gill (punter, holder), Patrick Scales (long snapper), Trestan Ebner (kick returns), Dante Pettis (punt returns)
Packers Projected Starters
• QB Aaron Rodgers
• RB Aaron Jones
• WR Allen Lazard (limited in practice with an ankle), Sammy Watkins, Randall Cobb
• TE Robert Tonyan
• LT David Bakhtiari (missed last week due to a knee issue), LG Jon Runyan (in concussion protocol), C Josh Myers, RG Royce Newman, RT Elgton Jenkins (also dealing with a knee injury)
• LDE Dean Lowry, NT Kenny Clark, RDE Jarran Reed
• WLB Preston Smith, LILB De’Vondre Campbell, RILB Quay Walker, SLB Rashan Gary
• LCB Jaire Alexander, RCB Eric Stokes
• FS Darnell Savage, SS Adrian Amos
• Mason Crosby (kicker), Pat O’Donnell (punter, holder), Jack Coco (long snapper), Amari Rodgers (kick and punt returns)
David Montgomery was held to 26 yards on 17 carries in the Week 1 victory over the 49ers, but I don’t foresee Montgomery having a repeat performance. Matt Eberflus and Luke Getsy want Montgomery to get more carries and to be involved in the passing game. With decent weather in the forecast in Green Bay on Sunday night, Getsy should be able to do more of the things he wants with the offense.
Expect Montgomery to have better results on the ground and get more involved in the passing game against the Packers here in Week 2.
Justin Fields was good when it mattered in Week 1 but not free of mistakes. Mistakes, like we saw in Week 1, might not be ones the Bears can overcome against Aaron Rodgers and the Packers, so Fields is going to need to have a much better performance.
Again, Luke Getsy is going to have the full disposal of his playbook at his digression with the weather being normal, so it will be interesting to see what Getsy has planned for the Bears’ offense in this one. Hopefully it has more plays designed to get Fields out of the pocket and looking downfield. When San Francisco didn’t blitz in Week 1, Fields completed 7-of-14 passes for 103 yards and a touchdown.
Remember, good things happen when Fields gets loose, and this team practices for scramble drills.
Jaylon Johnson doesn’t have to face Devante Adams in Green Bay this season, but he’s still going to play a vital role in this game if the Bears are going to beat the Packers. Aaron Rodgers was 0-2 with an interception on deep balls (20-plus yards) and 2-4 for 40 yards and no touchdowns on medium throws (10-19 yards) in Week 1, as his lack of downfield weapons was on display against Minnesota.
Rodgers is a Hall of Famer, and he will make adjustments. He will likely have Allen Lazard (a pretty good deep threat) back on Sunday. Plus, Rodgers saw plenty of success in the short throw (0-9 yards) department, completing 14-of-17 passes for 123 yards.
Johnson was graded high in all areas in Week 1 and allowed zero receiving yards because San Francisco didn’t target him once on Sunday. Johnson was excellent defending the run and playing in coverage short, and he even forced a fumble In the first quarter with a Peanut Punch, but Aaron Rodgers is not Trey Lance, and he’s going to test Johnson more than the 49ers did.
Still, with Green Bay’s lack of reliable receiving weapons, Johnson has the advantage matchup on Sunday.