Key Battles: Packers vs. Bears- The Opening Act

Today, we look at key battles for the season opener against the Bears at Soldier Field.

After eight months without real football, the Packers are ready to erase the disappointing memories of 2018 and get back to their winning ways this upcoming season.  They will be tested by the reigning NFC North division champion Chicago Bears who present a huge challenge because they are a difficult unit to stop both on offense and defense.

Head Coach Matt Nagy's innovative offensive system created many different packages and formations which helped Mitch Trubisky progress during his second season. His progression turned the Bears offense into one of the more up and coming units in the conference.  On the defensive side of the ball, the trade for Khalil Mack completely changed the face of the Bears defense and made into one of the leagues best.  

As a result of these moves, the Bears won a hard-fought battle with the Minnesota Vikings to represent the NFC North in the wildcard round of the playoffs against the Eagles.  Just when the Bears were getting ready to move onto the divisional round against the Saints, Cody Parky doinked one off of the uprights and just like that their magical season had come to a disastrous end.

The Packers and the Bears are looking to write new stories for their respective franchises this season.  The Bears are looking to repeat as division champs and ultimately have a different playoff outcome, whereas the Packers are looking to just have a winning record and contend for a playoff birth for the first time in two years.  Tomorrow night, these two historic franchises start their playoff quest on primetime football to kick off the NFL's one-hundredth season.

Key Battles: Packers vs. Bears

The keys to victory for the Packers are really quite simple.

1. Can the Packers offensive line control the point of attack? 

When matching up with the Bears you can tell whether you'll be able to move the ball on offense from how you control the point of attack.  If the pocket collapses and running lanes close up quickly, you know you're going to be in for a long day against the likes of Khalil Mack, Akiem Hicks, and Roquan Smith.  What I'll be looking for is how the right side of the Packers offensive line holds up against the heat of the Bears front seven.  

If the Bears do break down the pocket and collapse the running lanes it will be from bullrushes by Akiem Hicks followed by speed rushes from the second level of both Khalil Mack and Roquan Smith against Billy Turner and Brian Bulaga.  How the right side of the Packers offensive line holds up will determine if the offense can move the ball down the field.    

2. Can Special Teams make field goals and win the field position battle?

Going into this year, I am not expecting greatness from the Packers special teams unit.  In fact, I am expecting a mixed bag with a few fatal errors in each loss the Packers suffer this season.  However, when the Packers special teams unit makes the necessary amount of fundamental plays and avoids dumpster fires, the team will often have a very good chance to win those games.  Last year, the dreadful play of the special teams unit easily cost the Packers at least 3 wins and an endless amount of drives because they were backed up against their own endzone.  

This year, if they cut their mistakes in half, they can go from a 6 win team to an 8 or 9 win team.  The special team rebuild begins tomorrow night as the Packers look to minimize penalties, missed tackles, and missed field goals.  

The special teams unit does not need to do anything spectacular, they just need to play conservatively and avoid the catastrophic mistake.  All the Packers need are ten-yard returns WITHOUT a penalty, punts that are not returned, and have the opponent starting at their own 20-25 yard line, successful PAT attempts and field goals, and no fumbles or missed tackles.  

Believe it or not, the special teams battle is one which can be won.  All the Packers need is Mason Crosby to make kicks, JK Scott to unleash high, long punts between the 20-30 yard line, and for the return game not to implode.  If the Packers can make kicks and eliminate Tarick Cohen and the Bears return game, they will put themselves in a position to steal a win at Soldier Field.        

3. Can the running game get going, protect Aaron Rodgers and control the clock?

Battles 1 and 3 are interconnected which means if the Packers do not win the point of attack, they will not be able to run the ball.  As a result of this, I believe the Packers running game is going to determine a lot of key battles on Thursday Night.  There are a few different "if-then scenarios" attached to the successes or failures of the Packers running game.  

For example, one "if-then scenario" I see, is, if the running game is successful, then it will shorten the game and take the pressure off of the defense.  Additionally, if the Packers are able to successfully run the ball and pick up a few first downs, they will have a better chance of winning the field position battle and sustaining prolonged drives.  Prolonged drives and optimal field position is what will turn this game one way or the other for the Packers.      

4. Do Aaron Rodgers and the offense have a few dynamic plays in their bones?

It always seems that no matter how each Packers team is constructed, wins and losses often come down to whether Aaron Rodgers and the offense have a few dynamic plays in their bones on a particular week.  We can go over highlight tape after highlight tape to prove this statement to be true.  

The question is, which matchup will yield one of these dynamic plays from the future hall of fame quarterback?  I will be looking to see if the Packers can manipulate a matchup between Prince Amukamara and Davante Adams late in the game.  Another player I think Aaron Rodgers will look to exploit is Ha-Ha Clinton-Dix.  I believe Rodgers will pick on Clinton-Dix on slant routes over the middle and force him to tackle Jake Kumerow and Davante Adams in the open field.  One patented Clinton-Dix whiff in the open field could be the difference between a win and a loss for the Packers.   

I will be looking for Aaron Rodgers to test Prince Amukamara and Ha-Ha Clinton-Dix early and often.  

Predictions:

I think the Packers lose a hard-fought 24-20 contest.  I just think the Bears offense is more consistent and more dynamic at this point, and their defense will force a key third-down sack or a late-game turnover.   

-------------------

David Michalski is a staff writer for Cheesehead TV. He can be found on Twitter @kilbas27dave 

NFL Categories: 
3 points

Comments (49)

Fan-Friendly This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.
Doug_In_Sandpoint's picture

September 04, 2019 at 04:23 pm

Sorry David. The only key to this game is that the Bears suck. We will win handily...60-0 or more. We cannot go 19-0 by losing the first game of the season. When objectively looking at this season, I just don’t see how any other team even scores on us.

+ REPLY
17 points
18
1
Difer's picture

September 04, 2019 at 04:34 pm

At a minimum, a score on every possession, every game.

+ REPLY
2 points
2
0
JohnnyLogan's picture

September 04, 2019 at 04:41 pm

You exaggerate. I believe a few points will definitely be scored against the Packers... in garbage time.

+ REPLY
2 points
2
0
J_brooks's picture

September 04, 2019 at 04:54 pm

Totally agree Doug.

Also objectively, using advanced statistical analysis, one will find that the Packers scored an average of 19.75 points per game last year and gave up 21 points per game (both including playoffs & the SB). If the Pack maintain last year’s performance and simply make or prevent a field goal or gain two 2pt conversions via The Italian Stallion per game, then every game will swing in our favor.

19-0 all the way baby!

+ REPLY
2 points
2
0
Leatherhead's picture

September 04, 2019 at 05:04 pm

I think we shouldn't put special teams in a position to lose the game for us. Fair catch and let Rodgers start. Better to go for it on 4th down than try a long field goal.

I think the Packers should run the ball all night. If the Bears can stop us all night, fine, they win. But if we can run on these guys, we can run on anybody.

Plus, it makes sure Rodgers won't be hurt for the Viking game, which is the more important game since it's at home.

If we're going to do anything this year, it'll be because we can run. IF we can't, the rest is just smoke and mirrors.

+ REPLY
5 points
7
2
4thand10's picture

September 04, 2019 at 05:38 pm

Jamaal Williams got 3.1 yrds per rush last year week 1. With him on screens or something and Aaron Jones involved it should be even better. If we can survive Nagys few possessions of trick plays and gadgets and force them to play real football..we got a chance. I think our D is going to be even better this year. If I was Pettine I’d start out right off the bat in man coverage .

+ REPLY
1 points
2
1
Leatherhead's picture

September 04, 2019 at 07:12 pm

If you gain 3.1 yards on every play, you should win every game. It has the twin advantages of protecting our quarterback and keeping our defense off the field.

+ REPLY
0 points
1
1
Coldworld's picture

September 04, 2019 at 05:40 pm

I’m just as worried about the ability to handle returns by Cohen unless Crosby can kick through the end zone or at least deep.

+ REPLY
0 points
1
1
Leatherhead's picture

September 04, 2019 at 07:14 pm

Crosby has always had a strong enough leg to kick it through the endzone, and if he doesn't anymore, then that's a bad sign. I also wonder if the plan is to kick it high and deep so they have to return and we can trap them inside the 25.

Kick it through the endzone. No return. Line up on the 25.

+ REPLY
0 points
0
0
KnockTheSnotOutOfYou's picture

September 05, 2019 at 08:31 am

Agree run the ball but also having the RB's catching a lot of screen and slants.

+ REPLY
0 points
0
0
Lare's picture

September 04, 2019 at 05:20 pm

The key to this game is #1 above. If the OL can protect Rodgers and give holes for the running game the Packers will win. If not, they will lose.

+ REPLY
2 points
2
0
Jonathan Spader's picture

September 04, 2019 at 05:43 pm

" I just think the Bears offense is more consistent and more dynamic at this point" Based off of what? I'll take Rodgers anyday over Turdbisket. Jones vs. Montgomery should be an interesting matchup. Adams over Robinson easy call. I expect the Packer offense to outperform the Bear offense.

+ REPLY
4 points
6
2
Coldworld's picture

September 04, 2019 at 05:41 pm

To be fair, we haven’t seen the Packers real O. That said, “consistent and dynamic” doesn’t remind me of the Bears O.

+ REPLY
7 points
7
0
Leatherhead's picture

September 04, 2019 at 07:50 pm

Bears Offense, 2018:

9th in the league in scoring.
They had one fewer first down than we did.

I'm beginning to think some of you don't watch the Bears. They don't just win by luck. Trubisky moves the offense and gets the ball into the endzone. He threw one less TD pass than Rodgers in about 150 fewer attempts. A lot of times, he evades the sack which would stop the drive and runs for a first down that keeps the offense on the field. These guys like Howard and Cohen aren't easy to tackle. They have some guys who can catch.

I think the people who are hoping the Bears are just going to look bad tomorrow night are in for a disappointment.

+ REPLY
-4 points
1
5
Bearmeat's picture

September 04, 2019 at 09:04 pm

9th in the league in scoring, yet had one fewer first down than we did. We finished 14th in scoring. If they finished 9th in the league in scoring, they should have quite a few more first downs than the 14th place team, no?

What does that tell you? That the defense was giving the offense short fields (and scoring itself). Year to year turnovers are highly variable. The Bears will not lead the league in turnover differential again. They will not be as healthy as they were last year either. Ergo: Their offense is going to have to "win" some games on its own merit - something it most certainly has shown so far that it does not possess.

Trubisky could make a jump. But I'm not buying it - dude was THE WORST QB in the game last year in bad ball %, rating from a clean pocket and poor decision %. Those are markers that usually don't change year to year.

All that to say, I do think we will lose tomorrow night. I think our offense is going to take time to find itself, and our special teams still scare the hell out of me. Luckily, the season is 16 games long. Not 1.

+ REPLY
3 points
3
0
Since'61's picture

September 04, 2019 at 05:48 pm

Totally agree Jonathan. Good post. Thanks, Since ‘61

+ REPLY
0 points
1
1
DavidMichalski's picture

September 04, 2019 at 07:41 pm

Idk they seemed to have some pretty dynamic packages with Cohen last year and Trubisky consistently made safe throws to keep defenses honest.

+ REPLY
-2 points
0
2
ILPackerBacker's picture

September 05, 2019 at 11:54 am

playing it safe pads stats it is NOT dynamic

+ REPLY
1 points
1
0
Since'61's picture

September 04, 2019 at 05:48 pm

David, you have completely left out the impact that the Packers defense will have on this game. You basically made it come down to the Packers offense versus the Bears defense.

While it is true that the Packers OL must win the LOS for the Packers to move the ball the Packers defense will hold the Bears offense in check. Pressure on Trubisky, stop the run and win the LOS on defense. Our defense can create turnovers this season.

While our defense stops the Bears, Rodgers and our offense will score enough points to take the game.

If we don’t beat ourselves with penalties and/or turnovers we’ll be OK as long as we don’t get screwed by the officials. Go Pack Go.
Thanks, Since ‘61

+ REPLY
4 points
6
2
Packers2019's picture

September 04, 2019 at 06:40 pm

I tend to agree with everything but stopping the run, 61.

We were 26th in the NFL in run D last year. Until I see that change, I am not going to be optimistic. Having said that, our D has more play makers on that side of the ball. On paper, we look formidable. Now we need to take it to the field.

+ REPLY
1 points
1
0
4thand10's picture

September 04, 2019 at 08:54 pm

No Jordan Howard and our D got a lot bigger. Safety position is upgraded. Packers were 15th in total defense last year. Healthy Oline + Jones playing and Rodgers playing a full game... I like the odds. They got David Montgomery... he’s crowned right now, but has yet to play a full NFL season.

+ REPLY
2 points
2
0
4thand10's picture

September 04, 2019 at 09:40 pm

Gotta love Bucky Brooks...he is predicting a Packers win.

+ REPLY
0 points
0
0
PackfanNY's picture

September 04, 2019 at 06:54 pm

I see the opportunity for a turnover or two from Trubisky to Alexander and/or Savage. We will get some rush on him and that will force bad throws. Something which we didn’t see last year.

+ REPLY
3 points
3
0
DavidMichalski's picture

September 04, 2019 at 07:44 pm

Yea 61, I honestly believe the defense will give up their typical 21-28 points and the game will boil down to special teams, and the Packers offense versus the Bears defense. You have a totally fair take, this is just how I see it playing out. Like Za’Darius Smith could totally wreck the game, it’s just hard to see being that we’ve barely seen any reps.

+ REPLY
-1 points
1
2
4thand10's picture

September 04, 2019 at 08:58 pm

We had seen what the back ups did all pre season setting the edge...against other teams vets and some pretty good backs .Cannot wait to see what the 1st string defense does.

+ REPLY
0 points
0
0
ricky's picture

September 04, 2019 at 05:52 pm

A tough fought 24-20 loss? Yep, for the Bears. But what hasn't been mentioned is that both team's starters were conspicuously absent for most of the exhibition season. So expect more defense than offense, as both teams work out the kinks and get in sync during real games, rather than earlier.

+ REPLY
1 points
1
0
TheBigCheeze's picture

September 04, 2019 at 06:10 pm

there's nothing I hate worse than a pansy packer fan....David Michalski sounds scared......the packers are superior to the lowly bears, and will win by at least THREE TDs.......BOOK IT!!!!

+ REPLY
1 points
4
3
DavidMichalski's picture

September 04, 2019 at 07:46 pm

Lol that’s good. Keep drinking the kool-aide! Ooooooooo yea!!!! ;)

+ REPLY
-1 points
0
1
Lare's picture

September 04, 2019 at 06:57 pm

Two things the Packers have going against them.

1. Soldier Field- This field is terrible, not up to NFL standards. It's little wonder that Jones has suffered knee injuries here.

2. Officiating- The refs will be doing everything they can to make sure the Bears win at home. I expect lots of "invisible" calls against the Packers on big plays.

+ REPLY
0 points
1
1
Oppy's picture

September 04, 2019 at 07:32 pm

Why would the officials be calling the game in the Bears favor?

+ REPLY
2 points
2
0
Swisch's picture

September 04, 2019 at 07:47 pm

Maybe so they can get out of town safely. ;-)

+ REPLY
3 points
3
0
EdsLaces's picture

September 04, 2019 at 06:59 pm

If 12 can get decent protection Adams can roll. Especially if they can get him on Prince. And dont get me started on how bad Skrine sucks. I cant believe gameday is tomorrow ! Go pack go from West Virginia!

+ REPLY
2 points
2
0
Duneslick's picture

September 04, 2019 at 07:05 pm

I think GB has to stop Montgomery and Cohen on both runs and passes. This will force Tribiskey to pass the ball downfield accurately. Make him pass to win the game .

+ REPLY
3 points
3
0
jannes bjornson's picture

September 04, 2019 at 08:36 pm

Place it all on Trubitsky's shoulders. Take away his first read and contain the edge.

+ REPLY
1 points
1
0
Swisch's picture

September 04, 2019 at 07:51 pm

Last year, as best I can remember, the Packers failed all the key battles on offense during the first half of the opener against the Bears; ironically, it was only with a severely gimpy Aaron Rodgers in the second half that we pulled out an incredible victory.
To me, the first lesson is for Rodgers to get the ball out quickly without having to be injured first. Use the whole field, and a creative mixture of passes and runs. Move the chains most of all, but also selectively take shots down the field.
Secondly, be patient and don't panic in the early going when the Bears come out ferociously amidst the roar of their home crowd, and try to overwhelm us into early disaster.
Eventually, the adrenaline will run low and the opportunities for the offense will open up. (Remember that Super Bowl awhile back between the Patriots and Panthers when the defenses totally dominated the first half, while the second half dramatically changed into a high-flying scoring fest.)
If things look bad early on, I'm confident our QB will show leadership and calm everyone down. In so many words, and in the most encouraging of ways, the message will be: R-E-L-A-X.
The key is to minimize the damage during adversity, so that there isn't as far to go when the momentum changes and the comeback begins.
With a measure of poise during pandemonium, it's amazing how the most lopsided of beginnings in a football game can become the most suspenseful of finishes.
It's one of the things that makes the game great. Persevere, and fight to the finish. That's life.

+ REPLY
1 points
2
1
Oppy's picture

September 04, 2019 at 07:38 pm

For the foreseable future, Packers success will hinge on whether or not #12 puts the ball in the hands of our capable RB's.

Last year was an absolute crime. You can not have the league's #1 yards per rushing attempt and the league's #32 total rushing attempts.

The sooner Rodgers learns that handing the ball off saves his hide and will make his passing attempts more effective, the sooner the Packers get back to a superbowl.

+ REPLY
0 points
2
2
LeotisHarris's picture

September 04, 2019 at 07:44 pm

Is the word salad from this author necessary to generate discussion regarding key battles? Today we have a headline suggesting a discussion of key battles is forthcoming, followed by 4 unnecessary paragraphs. The article shifts next to keys to victory. The author shares what he thinks about many things.

Why not ask readers to sound off on what they see as key matchups or keys to victory? There are a plethora of intelligent people who post here. Many of the aforementioned posters are also fine writers.

+ REPLY
2 points
2
0
DavidMichalski's picture

September 04, 2019 at 07:51 pm

Glad you still love me ;) got that extra hard on tonight don’t ya. I have to give it to you though, I forgot to put the regular sound off in today’s article.

+ REPLY
-4 points
0
4
ThxJackVainisi's picture

September 04, 2019 at 08:03 pm

LeotisHarris, where's your discussion of the key matchups? After complaining about it's absence I thought certainly you'd be filling the void.

+ REPLY
0 points
0
0
LeotisHarris's picture

September 04, 2019 at 09:02 pm

Is that what you thought, TJV? Wow, I'm honored. No, I don't bill myself as a writer, especially a staff writer at CHTV, so I don't look to generate content here.

I wasn't complaining about the absence of a discussion of key matchups. I was pointing out the inability of the author to pair a headline with an article, and then lead readers through a well-written linear discussion. My suggestion was to bypass the author and turn it over to those who can and do write well here.

+ REPLY
2 points
2
0
DavidMichalski's picture

September 05, 2019 at 01:08 am

It’s your right to detest my work, my question is why don’t you just read one of the other authors columns? You bring nothing new to the table. We get it, you hate what I do and want my columns to be done in a different way. So let me suggest finding an author you actually like and respect so you can stop being such a piece of shit troll on my thread.

+ REPLY
-2 points
2
4
Leatherhead's picture

September 04, 2019 at 08:13 pm

AArrrrrggggh.

+ REPLY
0 points
0
0
Leatherhead's picture

September 04, 2019 at 08:11 pm

Well stated Leotis.

My two cents:

The team with the most rushing yards will win. We talk about being a running team and running more. But that's going to take patience, particularly when it isn't working. We need Rodgers handing off more, throwing less, getting rid of the ball more quickly and taking many fewer sacks and hits.

If it were me, I'd line up and run right over these bastards on their homefield. Run the double TE set so you have six blockers. And just run your play. Let our RBs and our OL set the tone.

We shouldn't give the Bears a chance to stop Rodgers until they 've stopped the run.

+ REPLY
0 points
1
1
stockholder's picture

September 04, 2019 at 07:49 pm

The Bears won't represent the NFC North. They aren't monsters in any form. Their a team that has taken advantage of the weak. -3 points is nothing to be afraid of. Any weakness will be laid to rest this game. The wall has been built. We only need to let Rodgers be Rodgers. The best way to cook a bear is to smoke it.

+ REPLY
2 points
3
1
Packer Dave's picture

September 04, 2019 at 08:28 pm

This game is why Mercedes gets a paycheck. Last year Bulaga was left on an island vs Mack. I think those two completely take him out of the equation if that's the set.

Other key differences:
We got big at OLB. That front is going to be a load to handle over 4 quarters. Montravious may have arrived.

Vitale is going to make a big difference in addition to actually using Jones.

Right guard will not be a dumpster fire. Same with the safeties.

Lastly, its only up from the play calling of last year. I think we see some creativity... finally...

I'm not saying we are going to win by 60, but I expect a win.

+ REPLY
5 points
5
0
LASVEGAS-TOM's picture

September 04, 2019 at 08:36 pm

Hey Tarynfor12, Do you want to call it, or would you rather if I picked it? Last week, I had No Idea that AR wasn't playing. If I had to guess I'd say the $$$ was off of GB. This week all of you need to hope it's the same way. I really don't want to pick this game. I stopped betting football last year for the most part because of medical reasons. This game will tell me a lot. Unless something has changed, this line has been a loss for GB over the last 20 years. The fact that it's in Chicago helps GB. It gets some of the $$$ off their backs. The only time I would jump on GB with 3 points is against the Pats. I think Chicago gets the $$$ in the 1st half -2. Not sure about the game. If you like GB, I'd bet them the 1st half +2. GB +3 against anyone except the Pats or Seattle when they were a power house has been pretty much an automatic loss for a long time. I like the fact that this game is in Chicago. I'm playing strictly the line here. I don't know 3 players on GB.
LVT

+ REPLY
1 points
2
1
Tundraboy's picture

September 04, 2019 at 08:43 pm

"One patented Clinton-Dix whiff in the open field could be the difference between a win and a loss for the Packers."

I'd like to see a couple. How about him biting on a fake field goal too.

+ REPLY
1 points
1
0
ILPackerBacker's picture

September 05, 2019 at 12:00 pm

Really to many posters here are just lazy. Scoring? OK look at the packer/bear scoring.

Without Rodgers for 3 halves the packers scored ZERO POSITIVE POINTS and gave up NEGATIVE POINTS. Adjust for that and look at the scoring.

Compare the lengths of drives.

Compare the scoring by defenses and special teams.

Packer fans should worry about and be scared of special teams that showed NO improvement in the preseason. There might be reasons for that which can be addressed and it will not carry into the regular season.

It might be they got another bad coach.

+ REPLY
0 points
0
0
Ryan3468's picture

September 05, 2019 at 12:14 pm

Crosby kicking off is horrifying. In terms of this team against the Bears. I still pick the Packers. Never give up, never surrender. And if your opponent is good, play better. Just don’t play down to your opponent.

+ REPLY
1 points
1
0

Log in to comment and more!

Not a member yet? Join free.

If you have already commented on Cheesehead TV in the past, we've created an account for you. Just verify your email, set a password and you're golden.