5 things to watch in Bears’ divisional showdown vs. Packers

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The Chicago Bears will host the Green Bay Packers on Sunday, where first place in the NFC North is on the line. And for a team like Chicago, it’s a chance to make a statement in another potential upset.

From Justin Fields’ first Packers game to containing Aaron Rodgers, here are five things to watch in the Bears’ Week 6 matchup — and a final prediction!

How does Justin Fields perform in first Packers game?

Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

Justin Fields is no stranger to big-time rivalries. During his time at Ohio State, he got a taste of the Michigan-Ohio State rivalry, which he was on the winning side of. Now, Fields is gearing up for his first Bears-Packers game, where he finds himself on the losing side. At least for now. Many Bears quarterbacks have garnered certain reputations against Green Bay, be it winning or losing. Fields will be looking to turn the page in this rivalry and get Chicago back on the winning side.

The Bears haven’t asked Fields to do much since he took over as starting quarterback in Week 3. Chicago has leaned on a strong run game that’s featured David Montgomery, Damien Williams and Khalil Herbert while Fields has taken some deep shots and made some clutch plays when his team needed it. That could change Sunday against the Packers, where Fields might have to do more in this game, especially if Green Bay gets off to a quick start.

Can the Bears pass rush make things uncomfortable for Aaron Rodgers?

Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

Aside from a Week 1 blowout, the Bears defense has been a top unit this season under new defensive coordinator Sean Desai, whose put his players in positions to succeed this season. They’ve also done a good job of pressuring and confusing opposing quarterbacks with disguised coverages and a pass rush that ranks first in the NFL with 18 sacks through five weeks. But the real test comes Sunday against the Packers, where Aaron Rodgers awaits.

Rodgers has owned the Bears over the last decade, and Chicago will be looking to reverse that misfortune. The key for this game is to make things uncomfortable for Rodgers, which is something they did to Raiders quarterback Derek Carr just last week. The Packers have allowed just 11 sacks this year, but there are opportunities for Desai to line up Khalil Mack and Robert Quinn in different spots to help bring the pressure on Rodgers. If Chicago can rattle Rodgers, which isn’t easy, the Bears can win this game.

How will rookie RB Khalil Herbert look as workhorse back

Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports

The Bears offense has established themselves as a hard-nosed running unit. Even without starter David Montgomery, who is sidelined for at least another 2-4 weeks with a knee sprain, Chicago found success with Damien Williams and rookie Khalil Herbert. Williams and Herbert combined for 34 carries for 139 yards and a touchdown in last week’s win over the Raiders.

With Williams out Sunday on the reserve/COVID-19 list, it’ll be Herbert who gets a bulk of the reps with Ryan Nall and likely Artavis Pierce serving as his backups. Last week against the Raiders, Herbert led the Bears with 75 rushing yards, including 50 yards after contact, and forced three missed tackles. Herbert showed good vision and plenty of potential. But can he handle the workload? We’ll see Sunday.

Jaylon Johnson vs. Davante Adams

AP Photo/Kamil Krzaczynski

It’ll be strength against strength as the Bears defense and Packers offense face off Sunday. No doubt the best matchup of the game — and perhaps the entire NFL weekend — will be Bears cornerback Jaylon Johnson and Packers wide receiver Davante Adams, who have been among the best at their respective positions through the first five weeks.

Johnson has a 21.7% forced incompletion rate (tied for 4th in NFL), 42.9 completion percentage allowed (6th), is a top three PFF cornerback vs. single coverage, has 6 pass breakups (t-4th) and zero missed tackles. Adams has been targeted 61 times (most in NFL0, has a 92.7 receiving grade against single coverage (2nd) and 579 receiving yards (most in NFL). No matter how you look at it, this matchup is going to be a good one.

Can the Bears get their first win over the Packers since 2018?

AP Photo/Kamil Krzaczynski

When you look at this matchup on paper, it’s hard to argue that the Bears don’t stand a chance in this game. The defense has thrived under new defensive coordinator Sean Desai with the league’s best pass rush. The offense is showing signs of progress with rookie quarterback Justin Fields and new play caller Bill Lazor. They’re also riding a wave of momentum following an upset win over the Raiders.

But they’re not facing just any team; they’re facing the Packers, who have had their number for the last decade. Even in games they should’ve beaten Green Bay, they just always seem to suffer a brutal defeat. But it feels like this could be the turning of the tide — with Fields stepping in and Rodgers presumably on his way out in Bay. The Bears have an opportunity to make a statement with a win in a game that will tell us a lot about this team.

Prediction: Packers 27, Bears 20

AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh

There’s nothing more I would like to do than pick the Bears to beat the Packers on Sunday. Even though Chicago has a good chance to do just that, I’m not going to fall into the trap of believing the Bears will actually do it. I know better. And until Chicago proves they can beat Green Bay, I can’t pick them.

With that said, this is a winnable game for the Bears. Last year, Chicago was blown out in both losses to the Packers. But I don’t see that happening this year. This feels more in line with the first two years against Green Bay under Matt Nagy, which have all been one-score games.

Justin Fields gets his introduction to this Bears-Packers rivalry. And as someone used to winning in a rivalry like his during his time at Ohio State against Michigan, he’s not on the winning side…at least right now. While Chicago hasn’t asked Fields to do much in his first three starts, that could certainly change Sunday. After Damien Williams landed on the reserve/COVID-19 list, the Bears are down to rookie Khalil Herbert and Ryan Nall at running back. If the Packers jump out to a quick lead, this feels like a game where Fields will be asked to win with his arm and playmaking ability against the NFL’s worst red zone defense.

But, as always, this game will come down to how the Bears defense performs against Aaron Rodgers. Sean Desai has done a good job disguising different coverages, and that creativity is going to be key to containing Rodgers. With the NFL’s best pass rush, the Bears are going to need guys like Khalil Mack, Robert Quinn and Trevis Gipson to step up.

I want to pick the Bears, I really do. But until they can actually beat the Packers, I can’t.

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