Skip to main content

Injuries Test Bears Depth at Key Spots

Roquan Smith's hamstring situation could give the Packers chances to test the middle, where they had difficulty in the first game between the teams.

The Bears have more at stake in Sunday night's game against Green Bay than deciding franchise ownership rights between Aaron Rodgers or the McCaskey family.

They can point to unrealistic playoff chances like Darnell Mooney did on Tuesday.

"Another opportunity to push ahead," Mooney said. "We aren't out. We are playing playoff ball right now. We lose and we are out."

In reality, they were out of it long ago and even if they lose then math would say they still have about the same chance as anyone would of winning the lottery.

The Bears really have little more than pride at stake in this game but often pride is all a team needs in this rivalry.

Pride doesn't make their job easier and here are the key matchup reasons they are long shots to end a five-game losing streak to Green Bay.

Bears CB Jaylon Johnson vs. Packers WR Davante Adams

Johnson was beaten by DeAndre Hopkins on a fourth-down play for a 20-yard touchdown pass last week and the Bears have continued to force him into situations covering the opponents' best receiver all around the field. He actually doesn't do a bad job of an impossible task but isn't Jalen Ramsey and usually opponents hit him with one key pass. Adams made that last game with a 41-yarder coming from all the way across the formation. Even though Johnson helped hold Adams to four receptions, that 41-yarder made all the difference in the game. Adams rates a strong edge over Johnson here but not bigger than if the Packers can get him matched up on either of the two other cornerbacks the Bears have.

Bears LB Roquan Smith vs. Packers RB Aaron Jones

Roquan Smith is capable of matching up with any running back in pass coverage or tracking them down in the running game when 100% healthy. He's not healthy even if his name no longer is on the injury report. He gutted it out, playing through a hamstring injury on only 10 days rest last week and this will be a concern again this week as he tries to stay with Jones or A.J. Dillon. The Packers might rely on Aaron Rodgers for the big play but their running game is the key to their offense in this play-action heavy style of attack. Smith's ability to stay with the backs has to be in question until he's fully healthy, and with the way the Packers also run screens to backs it can be a problem for him keeping up with them in the open field.

Read More

Bears RT Larry Borom vs. Packers OLB Preston Smith

Borom's education continues. Smith has just five sacks on the year but can be a disruptive all-around force and is coming off the right side of the offense most of the time. The Bears like running in that direction and while Borom figured to be at his best as a run blocker because of his weight, muscle and arm length, the Bears so far have seen him as a better pass blocker than run blocker. Smith is a solid all-around performer on the edge who can be stout against the run at 6-foot-5, 265. He also has a real knack for using his reach to tip throws, with 21 over the course of his career. The Bears saw last week how that can end up.

Bears WR Damiere Byrd vs. Packers CB Chandon Sullivan

The extent of Byrd's participation depends on the injury status of Marquise Goodwin, if not Allen Robinson, but Goodwin is dealing with two injuries. So the Bears might lean on Byrd again. He stood out in the win over Detroit but last week in the cold and rain caught only three of the seven passes thrown his way. Byrd is at his best playing slot and looking for run after the catch. Sullivan has been pressed into a bigger role as a slot cornerback with injuries in the Green Bay secondary and hasn't excelled as he has been beaten three times for touchdowns, but is usually more comfortable covering in the short and middle areas where Byrd is most effective. Sullivan is allowing 65.1% completions, which is solid for a slot cornerback. His three TD passes allowed reflects the fact he has had to cover deeper routes and isn't as good at it. He has a passer rating against when targeted of 105.8.

Bears CB Xavier Crawford vs. Packers WR Randall Cobb

Crawford has taken over for injured Duke Shelley, and while Cobb has had some injury issues of his own this year he should be able to dominate with key catches the way he always seems to do against the Bears. Cobb has faced the Bears 17 times over the years and has averaged 3.9 catches and 54.6 yards. It always seems every one of those yards is huge. Cobb is coming off a four-catch, 95-yard performance against a tough Rams secondary and now faces Crawford, who has a passer rating against of 115.0 when targeted.

Twitter: BearDigest@BearsOnMaven