Week 2 of the NFL is already here, and the oldest rivalry in football will be hitting primetime. Kicking off at 8:20 PM EST, the Chicago Bears will head to Lambeau Field to take on the Green Bay Packers on Sunday Night Football. The Bears head into this game coming off a surprising week 1 victory vs the San Francisco 49ers, while the Packers are coming off an abysmal performance against a division rival in the Minnesota Vikings. Will the Packers continue to disappoint, or will quarterback Aaron Rodgers bounce back against an opponent he knows all too well? Let’s take a look.
The Packers were not able to do much week 1, only scoring once in a 23-7 loss to the Minnesota Vikings. The Packers defense, who many think can be one of the best defenses in the NFL, disappointed in the loss, but the offense is more to blame.
The Wide Receivers
The Packers wide receiver corps was the biggest question mark for the Packers coming into this season with the loss of star receiver Davante Adams in the offseason. The inexperience at the wide receiver position showed throughout the game, and even on the very first play on offense, as wide receiver Christian Watson, who the Packers drafted in the 2nd round of the NFL Draft, dropped a perfect pass on a go route from Aaron Rodgers which would have been a 75 yard touchdown on his first career snap. The Packers’ leading receiver against the Vikings was actually runningback AJ Dillon, who had 5 receptions for 46 yards, followed by rookie receiver Romeo Doubs, who had 4 receptions for 37 yards. It should be noted that veteran receiver Allen Lazard did not play week 1, and he is arguably Aaron Rodgers’ most trusted target. Lazard would be huge for a receiving corps that struggled week 1, but is questionable for the game tonight with an ankle injury, though reports say he is trending towards playing.
The Run Game
The runningbacks for the Packers played extremely well week 1, however, the Packers strangely got away from the running game early. Runningbacks AJ Dillon and Aaron Jones were both extremely efficient against the Vikings, as AJ Dillon rushed for 45 yards on 10 carries for 4.5 yards per carry and a touchdown, while Aaron Jones had 5 carries for 49 yards for a whopping 9.8 yards per carry. If the Packers want to dominate the Chicago Bears, they need to establish the run game early and stick with it.
A Packers defense that has high expectations was not great week 1, but did show promise. Vikings’ receiver Justin Jefferson made the Packers defense and secondary look silly, going for 9 receptions, a career high 184 yards, and 2 touchdowns. Although Jefferson is one of the best receivers in the league, a performance like this is unacceptable on the Packers’ end. Defensive coordinator Joe Barry did not make adjustments to deal with Jefferson until it was too late. Barry’s play calling at times was questionable, as there were plays where edge rusher Preston Smith was guarding Justin Jefferson. The linebackers did play well for the Packers, as 1st round pick Quay Walker was all over the field with 7 tackles in the first game of his career. The Packers’ defense is loaded with talent, and I expect a bounce back against a Bears offense that does not have near the star power as that of the Vikings.
Other Things to Note
When it comes to quarterback Aaron Rodgers, who is looking to win his 3rd straight MVP award, facing the Bears is always a story line, as he is 22-5 against Chicago in his career as a starter. Last season, a broadcast picked up on Rodgers yelling, “I own you,” at Bears fans in Soldier Field. Packers’ head coach Matt Lafleur would agree with the owning, as he is a perfect 6-0 in his young career against the Bears. Lafleur is also a perfect 9-0 in the regular season coming off a loss in the previous week. One last thing to note for the Packers is the offensive line. Pro bowlers David Bakhtiari and Elgton Jenkins are both questionable tonight. Either one of them playing would be a huge boost to a Packers offensive line that is mediocre at best without them.
Moving on, the Chicago Bears are an interesting team. In a game where most expected them to lose in week 1, the Bears were able to defeat the San Francisco 49ers, 19-10. This victory from the Bears is hard to assess, as the field had multiple inches of water on the ground, with rain constantly pouring throughout the game. Nevertheless, a win is a win, and the Bears will take it.
Quarterback Justin Fields was inconsistent in the slip-and-slide game, but showed flashes in a game where he went 8/17 for 121 yards and 2 touchdowns. Runningback Khalil Herbert looked great, rushing for 45 yards and 1 touchdown on 9 carries. David Montgomery did not look as good running the ball, rushing for only 26 yards on 17 carries. We can expect to see more from wide receiver Darnell Mooney this week, as he only had 1 reception for 8 yards in the terrible conditions last week. Justin Fields and the Bears offense need to limit mistakes to have a shot at beating the Packers tonight.
The Bears defense looked great week 1, holding the 49ers offense to only 10 points. The defense held quarterback Trey Lance to only 164 yards, and also forced a leaping interception by safety Eddie Jackson. Linebacker Roquan Smith continued to do his thing for the Bears, with 7 tackles and half a sack. It will be interesting to see how a young Bears’ secondary will perform against a young Packers’ receiver room. Cornerbacks Jaylon Johnson and rookie Kyler Gordon will look to lockdown the Packers’ receivers.
With everything being said, it is time for my prediction. The Packers have a better roster than the Bears, and the trends point to them winning tonight. Give me the Packers to win comfortably tonight in their home opener, 31-17.