These teams had very different starts to the season in Week 1. The Bears (1-0) overcame a lackluster first half to defeat the San Francisco 49ers at home, while the Packers (0-1) were outplayed in all phases of the game by the Vikings in their loss at Minnesota.
The Bears now look to take that momentum and pick up a rare win at Lambeau Field, while the Packers hope to bounce back by continuing their success against Chicago.
Sunday Night Football: Chicago (1-0) at Green Bay (0-1)
Three Things to Watch
1. Fields vs. Rodgers
Fields won his season opener while Rodgers lost his, but the Week 1 numbers for both men are deceiving. Last year's 11th overall draft pick completed just 8 of 17 passes for 121 yards against the Niners last Sunday. And while he threw a pick and was sacked twice, he did throw for two touchdowns. Fields averaged 7.1 yards per attempt and finished the game with an 85.7 passer rating. He fought through the tough field conditions caused by the rain and overcame a very slow and sluggish first half.
On the surface, Rodgers had a decent day in terms of the box score. He completed 22 of 34 attempts in Minneapolis for 195 yards. But he didn't throw a touchdown pass, and only 95 of those yards were accounted for by wide receivers. He was sacked four times, threw an interception, and only averaged 5.7 yards per attempt. The dropped passes by his young receiving corps didn't help, especially the first-quarter drop by rookie Christian Watson, which would have been a surefire touchdown.
Not everything was the offense's fault because the defense had its issues as well (more on that later). But the end result was the Pack dropping its second straight season opener. Now, Fields is already 0-2 lifetime against Aaron Rodgers, as the Bears lost both of last year's meetings by a combined score of 69-44. But in those games, Fields accounted for 515 total yards and three touchdown passes. As we all know, however, Rodgers "owns" the Bears (22-5 record, 6,549 passing yards, 61 touchdown passes against them).
2. How the Bears can win again on Sunday
In addition to seeing improved play from Fields, the offense also needs more out of its running game. The Bears ran for just 99 yards last week on 37 carries (2.7 ypc), with 45 of those thanks to the feet of second-year back Khalil Herbert, who scored the game's only rushing touchdown. Offensive coordinator Luke Getsy (a former Packers offensive assistant) would certainly like to see more out of David Montgomery (26 yds.). Taking advantage of the Packers' struggles against the run last week will go a long way on Sunday.
Darnell Mooney only caught one pass for eight yards last week. But after seeing how Minnesota's receivers had their way with the Packers secondary, both Fields and Getsy will look to get him the ball more often at Lambeau. You can also expect to see more chances for Dante Pettis, Byron Pringle, and Equanimeous St. Brown. They caught three of Fields' throws for 91 yards, with Pringle and St. Brown accounting for Fields' TD passes. The offensive line will also need to be on its A-Game in order to limit the Packers' pass rush like the Vikings did (only sacked Kirk Cousins once last weekend).
Getting two sacks last Sunday, 1.5 of which came from rookie defensive end Dominique Robinson, was a good start for this defense. And now they look to take advantage of a Green Bay offensive line that's less than 100 percent. This revamped secondary is also paying off already. Safety Eddie Jackson snagged his first interception since 2019 during the fourth quarter against the Niners, while fellow safety Jaquan Brisker recorded the first fumble recovery of his career. Cornerbacks Kyler Gordan and Jaylon Johnson combined to make 10 tackles, two of which were for a loss.
But getting better when it comes to stopping the run will be of great importance. The Bears allowed five 49er ball carriers to total 176 rushing yards, with Trey Lance leading the way with 54 yards. The Packers can do damage with their two-headed monster of AJ Dillon and Aaron Jones. So getting more efficiency from Fields, getting more production on the ground, seeing more from Mooney and Co., and continuing defensive efforts are the keys to victory for the Bears in Wisconsin.
3. What the Packers need to clean up
They have issues to sort out on both sides of the ball, starting with the offense. Whichever wide receivers are healthy enough to play Sunday (Allen Lazard is questionable with an ankle injury) need to step up their production yesterday. The aforementioned Dillon was his team's leading receiver at Minnesota (5 rec., 46 yds.), but those were catches that came out of the backfield. The same can be said for Jones (3, 27). But the drop by Watson, who finished with 34 receiving yards, was most glaring.
Veterans Randall Cobb (2 rec., 14 yds.), Sammy Watkins (3, 18), and Juwann Winfree (1, 17) weren't much help. Rodgers got some help from his tight ends as Tyler Davis, Robert Tonyan, and Josiah Deguara combined to grab six balls for 67 yards. But Deguara was mostly used as a fullback on some run plays, and this position group can't do it by themselves. The bottom line is that this group of receivers needs to step up — Davante Adams is not coming back.
The Packers should lean on the run game more to take pressure off the passing attack. Using Dillion and Jones as a one-two punch against a Bears defense that's still rebuilding could work in their favor; they ran for 111 yards and their only touchdown against the Vikings. But we all know that Rodgers would prefer to throw the ball. Regardless of what plays they run, they may have to use a patchwork offensive line again as they could be without Elgton Jenkins (pectoral muscle), David Bakhtiari (knee), Jon Runyan (concussion), and Jake Hanson (shoulder). The Bears will look to take advantage by exposing any holes within this offense.
As for the defense, after only sacking Kirk Cousins once last week (he threw for 277 yards), they now face a much more mobile quarterback in Fields. This unit also struggled against the run, giving up 126 yards on 4.5 ypa, and had no answer for Vikings wideout Justin Jefferson, who led all Week 1 receivers in yards (184), was tied for the lead in touchdown catches (2), and was fourth in yards after the catch (81). The Bears seemed poised to use a running back committee for now, and they won't hesitate to attack this defense.
Mooney didn't have a breakout game last week, but he's licking his chops after seeing what Jefferson did last Sunday. The Packers need to pressure Fields early and often and stay disciplined against the run. This defense has the talent and experience to overcome last week's miscues, and they may do just that this week with home-field advantage.
The Packers lead the all-time series 103-95-6. They've been victorious in each of the last six meetings, including the last three at Lambeau Field. The Bears haven't defeated Green Bay since 2018 and haven't won in Green Bay since Thanksgiving 2015. The Bears have been outscored by the Packers 331-215 since that game.
Although the opportunity is ripe for the taking for the Bears, I don't see Green Bay staying down for long. After losing last year's season opener, the Packers went on a seven-game winning streak en route to a 13-4 record and their third straight NFC North crown. Plus, they've been too good for the Bears to handle in recent seasons. I'm not saying they'll go on a similar run this year (especially with the health issues), but they will defend their home field on Sunday.
Prediction: Packers 28, Bears 20
— Written by Gabe Salgado, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. He's also written for NBC, Fox, The Sporting News, The Sports Journal, The Undefeated and Complex. He can also be heard on WGN Radio. Follow him on Twitter @GabeSalgado82.
*Price as of publication.