Green Bay Packers (4-1) at Chicago Bears (3-2)
Kickoff: Noon, Soldier Field, Chicago
The Line: Packers by 6 (Over/Under 44); SI Betting Info.
BearDigest Pick: Packers 23, Bears 13
BearDigest Record to date: 4-1 (5-0 vs. the spread)
TV: Fox (Joe Davis, Greg Olsen, Pam Oliver)
TV Streaming: Fox on fuboTV, free trial.
Radio: WBBM-AM 780, FM-105.9 (Jeff Joniak, Tom Thayer, Mark Grote)
National Radio: SportsUSA (Larry Kahn, Mark Carrier)
Spanish Radio: TUDN AM-1200, Latino Mix FM-93.5 (Omar Ramos, Miguel Esparza)
The Series: This is the 203rd matchup. Green Bay owns a 101-95-6 edge and has won nine of the last 10, 13 of the last 15 and has taken the last four straight.
The Coaches: Packers coach Matt LaFleur is 30-7 in his third season, including 2-2 in the playoffs. LaFleur is 4-0 against the Bears with Nagy coaching them.
Matt Nagy is 31-22 in his fourth season and 1-5 against the Packers, 0-4 against Green Bay with LaFleur coaching.
Last Week: The Packers led Cincinnati 22-14 and was tied 22-22, but then won in overtime 25-22 on a 49-yard Mason Crosby field goal. Aaron Rodgers threw for 344 yards on 27 of 39 with two TDs and an interception while Davante Adams had 11 receptions fro 206 yards. Aaron Jones ran for 103 yards on 14 carries. It was the first time in Packers history they had a 300-yard passer, 200-yard receiver and 100-yard rusher in the same game. ... The Bears beat the Las Vegas Raiders 20-9 in the final game coached by Raiders coach Jon Gruden before resigning. The Bears ran for 143 yards and Justin Fields went 12 of 20 for 111 yards with his first career touchdown pass. The Bears held the Raiders to 71 rushing yards and DeAndre Houston-Carson picked off Derek Carr.
What to watch: Aaron Rodgers tries to continue his mastery of the Bears with a 21-5 record and a career passer rating against them of 105.3, best by any QB against Chicago. ... The Packers have struggled with the running game but have an ability to avoid being flagged. They didn't go over 100 yards rushing in a game until Week 4 and last week even though they had 133 yards they had 74 yards on two carries, then 59 on their other 20 rushes. They are tied for the second-fewest penalties in the league (22). ... They are tied with the Bears for sixth in the league in turnover ratio at plus-3 and are 4-0 this year when they win the turnover ratio.
It's Fields' first game against the biggest Bears rivals but he's doing it with rookie Khalil Herbert starting at running back due to injuries. Herbert gained a game-high 75 yards in the win over the Raiders. The Bears pass rush leads the NFL with 18 sacks.
Injuries: The Packers are without CBs Kevin King and Zaire Alexander with shoulder injuries. T Dennis Kelly is doubtful (back). T Elgton Jenkins (ankle) and WR Malik Taylor (illness) are questionable.
The Bears are without T Germain Ifedi (knee), RBs David Montgomery (knee, IR) and Damien Williams (reserve/COVID-19), LB Caleb Johnson (knee) and TE J.P. Holtz (quad). WR Allen Robinson (ankle), DE Akiem Hicks (groin) and OLB Khalil Mack (foot) are questionable.
Matching Up: The Packers are 21st on offense, 15th passing and 21st rushing. Green Bay is sixth on defense, 10th against the pass and 11th against the run.
The Bears are 32nd (last) on offense, 32nd passing and ninth rushing. They are eighth on defense, 12th against the pass and 12th against the run.
Notable: The Packers have two takeaways in each of their last four games. ... Rodgers has moved into fifth all time in TD passes (422) and the next one he'd pass would be Brett Favre (508). ... Rodgers has three TD passes or more and no interceptions in his last three NFC North games. ... The six catches of 16 yards or longer by Adams last week were the most by a Packers receiver since Bill Schroeder had six against Indianapolis on Nov. 19, 2000 and it gave him 14 on the year, the most by anyone in the NFL. ... Randall Cobb has nine TD catches against the Bears, his most against any opponent. ... Bears edge rusher Khalil Mack has at least one sack in each of the last four games. ... The Bears defense held both teams they played at home this season scoreless in the first half. ... LB Roquan Smith is fourth in the NFL in tackles with 50. ... Kicker Cairo Santos not only has a streak of 34 straight but is 37 of 39 since coming to the Bears in 2020.
Key Individual Matchups
Bears CB Jaylon Johnson vs. Packers WR Davante Adams
It's possible this matchup will take place all over the field rather than when Adams lines up on the left side of the offense. That's because the Bears have enough faith in Johnson's improvement to let him do this. His play has ascended to a different level in his second year with six pass defenses already and only 44% completions allowed when he's targeted, according to Sportradar. But Johnson's effectiveness is at executing the scheme. They put Johnson on Odell Beckham Jr. all over the field in Cleveland and it didn't work out great for the Bears. That's because it takes away from their scheme to adjust in this manner and the scheme is part of the effectiveness of this eighth-ranked Bears defense. It seems likely they'll do this again, anyway, against Adams and this is a mistake because he is capable of torching just about any defensive back one on one with possibly the exception of Jalen Ramsey. Adams was targeted 16 times by Aaron Rodgers in Green Bay's last game. That wasn't even a season high. His current rate plots a path for 142 catches this season, which is pretty ridiculous. Until someone stops it, the Bears can figure Rodgers will keep throwing Adams' way. He does average only 4.8 receptions per game against the Bears, however.
Bears CB Duke Shelley vs. Packers WR Randall Cobb
Cobb is older now than when he used to torch the Bears in his first stint with Green Bay, but things probably won't change much. Back then the Bears could count the slot cornerback position as a great strength with Bryce Callahan playing there and they had a chance to win the battle. While the undersized (5-9, 176 pounds) Shelley has improved his coverage in the last two games, defending the slot against Rodgers and Cobb represents an entirely different level. Rodgers was picking on Buster Skrine last year by setting up mismatches in the slot, and at least Skrine had plenty of experience working on his side. Shelley is in his ninth game playing the position with starters. One was against Rodgers. While his passer rating against has declined, it's still a bit lofty at 99.8. Whether it's Cobb or they move a bigger receiver into the slot seeking a mismatch, Rodgers is sure to target the less experienced Bears nickel cornerback.
Bears RT Elijah Wilkinson vs. Packers DE Preston Smith
This would be a mismatch even if the Bears had injured Germain Ifedi available to block Smith. So far Smith has two sacks and eight pressures. He has 13 tackles. Za'Darius Smith has been the disaster waiting to happen for the Bears offensive line over the last two seasons but Preston Smith can do the same type of thing and will have an opportunity going against yet another Bears backup tackle. The original idea was for Teven Jenkins and Ifedi to play the tackles, and both are on injured reserve. Promising rookie Larry Borom is on IR, as well. Wilkinson gets caught up in some of the same problems Ifedi has at times, with not staying square to pass rushers, but he has 26 games of starting experience with Denver to his credit and now makes his first Bears start. And he is more comfortable on the right side at tackle than the left side.
Bears OLB Robert Quinn vs. Packers LT Yosh Nijman
Quinn got on a tear to start the season and some reporters at Halas Hall have asked if he is actually to the point where he's drawing double teams away from Khalil Mack. If so, it's being done by a losing team because Mack showed last week that even two injuries couldn't stop him once he gets going. Quinn has displayed a real knack for heady play now within this defense, and of not giving up. Matt Nagy pointed to a big tackle from behind to set up a second-and-short, and it turned into a series-stopping play. A year ago Quinn wasn't capable of huge effort plays as he battled injury but now Nagy said he is at ".. maybe one of the highest levels he's played at in his career. ..." Quinn has a better understanding of his role now working with outside linebackers coach Bill Shuey and in Sean Desai's defensive scheme. Nijman is a backup player who is playing the position because the Packers still are without David Bakhtiari after his ACL tear in the playoffs last season, and also now because Elgton Jenkins has been out three games with an ankle injury. Jenkins could be recovered enough to start instead of Nijman and it would even up the matchup. If they're put in long passing situations then Nijman could have trouble with Quinn, and so could Jenkins if he's not 100%. Nijman has a respectable 66.5 pass blocking grade from Pro Football Focus but overall is at a mediocre 57.1. Nijman, a Virginia Tech product, is 6-foot-7, 314 pounds and has played 199 snaps. He has allowed two sacks and committed three penalties.
Bears WR Allen Robinson vs. Packers CB Eric Stokes
With Jaire Alexander injured, the blazing fast rookie cornerback from Georgia might be the best chance Green Bay has of keeping Robinson under wraps. Either that, or the Bears might do it themselves because they seem unable to work out the Justin Fields-to-Robinson connection so far. A cornerback with speed like Stokes should have no problem keeping up with Robinson. Almost no cornerback in the league has a problem with Robinson's speed. It's his precision as a route runner and ability to use leverage and physically maneuver in crowds that give Robinson his greatest strengths. It's physically where Robinson would have an edge. Stokes has missed on 14.3% of his tackle attempts according to NFL official stat partner Sportradar, but has been excellent in coverage with his 4.27-second speed in the 40. He is no easy touch like Kevin King has been for Robinson, who averages 5.3 receptions and 75 yards against Green Bay. Give Stokes a little time and he could be at Alexander's level. His physical skills are there. But Robinson's experience and route running are how he gets open and not physical skills. The physical edge he does have, in size and strength, he uses artfully.
Bears DE Akiem Hicks vs. Packers RG Royce Newman
It's uncertain whether Hicks will be available due to the groin injury that kept him out of last week's game but by game time he would have had two full weeks of recovery time. And he was recovered enough by week's end to get on the practice field on Friday before the Raiders game, just not enough to play. So the chances look decent for his return. Otherwise, it would be Bilal Nichols against Newman, a possible mismatch as well. Hicks had started out playing as effective as ever and his inside push in this matchup is huge because Aaron Rodgers should have a difficult time escaping the pocket to throw on either side with Mack and Quinn defending there. It's the push in the middle that the Bears need in order to force Rodgers into throwing early. Newman is a rookie fourth-round pick from Mississippi State and is giving up 20 pounds to Hicks. He has allowed two sacks. His 49.4 PFF grade is the worst on the Packers offensive line, but again, like with all Packers linemen, his pass blocking has been better than his run blocking. The Bears thought they finally had Hicks paired up inside again with nose tackle Eddie Goldman for the first time since 2019 as Goldman returned from a knee injury against Detroit, and then Hicks suffered the groin injury on the first play. If it isn't Hicks, it would be Bilal Nichols sliding over to the left side of the defensive line and he is coming off what was his best overall performance of the season against the Raiders.