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Opponent by the Numbers: Chicago Bears Week 15

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Opponent by the Numbers: Chicago Bears Week 15

As much as this week’s opponent is formidable, it just feels right that the Packers should have to take on the Bears at this point of the season to keep their slim playoff hopes alive.

Green Bay has had its way with Chicago basically since 1992, and Bears fans are cautiously optimistic that the pendulum is beginning to swing their way.

For once, it’s the Packers’ quarterback whose performances are subject to scrutiny under the microscope. It’s the Packers who’ve had turmoil and upheaval at general manager and head coach. And it’s the cheeseheads, not the Ditka acolytes, who have one eye on the draft as the playoffs approach.

The Bears have had good seasons, but sustained success has eluded the franchise for an entire generation. With a young and promising franchise core of Ryan Pace, Matt Nagy and Mitchell Trubisky, Bears fans have reason for optimism.

Yet specters of seasons past still haunt Chicago and its fans.

The most recent example was Aaron Rodgers’ miraculous second-half comeback in Week 1, stealing a victory seemingly from nowhere on one leg. The shadow of No. 12 still looms over the Bears.

Every Chicago fan I know is optimistic and excited about this year’s team, but not a single one that I talked to this week could express that upbeat outlook without some kind of qualifier involving Rodgers. Until the clock reads all zeroes, Bears fans will live in fear of Rodgers, even if his efficiency isn’t quite up to his own standards.

Once bitten, twice shy, I suppose.

And so the prevailing attitudes of two fanbases are at stake Sunday, in addition to playoff implications. A Bears win would be a tremendous relief for Chicago fans and would allow them to consider a changing of the guard in the NFC North. An opportunity to extinguish the Packers’ lukewarm playoff chances would be a cathartic step for Dah Bearsss.

A Packers victory and 2018 sweep, however, would preserve that fear and extend Green Bay’s 25-plus years of dominance in this classic rivalry.


Spoiler alert: the Bears’ defense is good. According to Football Outsiders, Chicago’s is the league’s best with a DVOA of -26.3%. Not only is the Bears’ defense the best, but it’s nearly twice as good as the next best unit, which resides in Baltimore (-13.3%). The Bears essentially make any given opposing offense look worse than the Jets.  

-30.2% and -23.9%

These are the Bears’ defensive DVOA numbers against the run and the pass, respectively, both tops in the NFL. This is all to say that there are no holes in this unit. In fact, Football Outsiders breaks down pass defense by intended receiver type (primary, secondary, tight end, running back, etc.), and the Bears’ defense is no worse than eighth-best against any individual target type. There will be no easy answers for Joe Philbin when gameplanning this week.

There have been more dominant defenses in league history, but this unit stands out in a league-year that’s been all about flashy offense. They stop the run. They rush the passer. They cover. And with an NFL-leading 34 forced turnovers, they make momentous plays.

The only reasonable attack plan I can see is in the short passing game over the middle. Slot corner Bryce Callahan has just been placed on IR, so it may be Randall Cobb’s turn to shine. Rodgers unloading the ball quickly was what worked best in Week 1, and it may be the Packers’ only hope to neutralize an intimidating pass rush.


On the other side of the ball, the Bears’ biggest threat has been the running prowess of quarterback Mitchell Trubisky. He’s second on the team with 386 rushing yards and is averaging 6.8 yards per carry.

The second-year quarterback has been inconsistent throwing the ball this year. He had a six-touchdown game against Tampa in Week 4. But he’s thrown just 13 touchdowns to nine interceptions since.

And Chicago’s designed run game isn’t particularly successful either. Their offensive line ranks 28th in Football Outsiders’ adjusted line yards.

Trubisky has picked up 26 first downs on the ground this season, and it really does seem that the Bears’ offense needs that extra dimension to assemble successful drives, along with Nagy’s creative and deceptive play designs.

The Packers’ defense has been successful at limiting opposing running threats at quarterback this season, holding Russell Wilson and Josh Allen to a combined 36 yards on 10 carries. Mike Pettine’s ability to pressure Trubisky without opening gaping scramble lanes may just be the key to a Green Bay upset victory and keeping the Packers’ longshot playoff hopes alive.


Matt Kelley is a staff writer for Cheesehead TV. He can be found on Twitter via @hustleandheart1

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Fan friendly comments only: off Comments (19) This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.

Lare's picture

The main number that matters to me is "0", and that's for how many injuries the Packers experience in this game.

I know writers have to write about the playoff chances, but realistically the Packers have no chance of going to the playoffs this year. Just keep players healthy and get through the season, let Gutekunst do his job and the beginning of the next Packers dynasty starts next year.

jeremyjjbrown's picture

While I'd love to gloat when I visit our Chicago office this monday. I'm with you. 0 injuries is a big part of my list.

fastmoving's picture

yeah, right its really important to stay healthy at that point, the next meaningful game nearly 10 months away?????

And in 10 months, you will be afraid of every minute of football, because there is a risk of someone getting injured? makes a lot of sense, go watch badminton.

Samson's picture

Trubisky just has to play somewhat error free at QB. -- Really believe both Howard & especially Tarik Cohen could decide the outcome of this game. -- Don't think GB's "D" has enough speed to contend, especially on the road at Chicago.

Face it, the Pack still haven't won on the road. -- Next week against the Jets will be their only road win of season 2018. -- Sorry but ..... Da Bears are just too talented for the Pack to have a chance on Sunday.

ricky's picture

This team has something to prove: that they are better than they've been playing. And this is a Bears game. The longest rivalry in professional football. And Favre and Rodgers have both been Bears killers. You may have given up, but as the game gets nearer, I'm more and more excited for a Packers win. NEVER GIVE UP!

LeotisHarris's picture

Easy, Jimmy V. There's just too much reality messing with my denial to believe we'll win on Sunday. As others have said, and injury-free game would be a victory.

Bert's picture

Actually I think this team had something to prove about 8 weeks ago and didn't prove much.

dobber's picture

On the proved quite a bit.

Bert's picture

True statement.

Bearmeat's picture

We're going to need to defend Cohen - that's the guy that could burn us. And hope that Trubisky plays as badly as he did against the Rams.

I seriously doubt our offense scores more than 21 on its own.

dobber's picture

Cohen scares me, yes. He's a pretty dynamic piece.

In the end, the Packers need to not turn over the football. If they can manage that, my guess is a game played around 20 points. Trubisky and that offense will try to give the ball away a few times. Packers need to capitalize on that.

Gort's picture

I have a standing bet with a guy at work. I am way ahead on Mt. Dew over the past several years, and I don't want to buy a root beer for him on Monday!

Pierre's picture

Big black and blue division matchup of the oldest rivals. Packers win keep playoff hopes alive another week.

Skip greenBayless's picture

The Bears are like really good and getting better every week. As for the Packers coming to Chicago, let us pray.

fastmoving's picture

nobody needs to waste a prayer for that.
The Bears do not get any better at all, but have a good D and a bad O and nothing special at QB. Might be a close one…………

The Pack can very well win out, but I doubt the Vikings will drop 2.

jeepingmakooi's picture

They way Minn has played recently says otherwise.. and I doubt it was the OC fault

PatrickGB's picture

It’s one game at a time. And it’s one play at a time. If we can limit their run game and force them to throw then our defense can keep it manageable. The Aaron’s can be bear killers. And I would not be surprised if they did well. Like most of us here, this game appears daunting. But if the offense line doesn’t look offensive in protection then we have a chance. I suspect that a key play or two will come from unexpected players. If MVS or St. Brown can fill the role that Gmo did then it might open up the game for Cobb (another bearkiller), Adams and yes even Graham. We are underdogs for a reason but every dog has its day.

HankScorpio's picture

"..not the Ditka acolytes.."

The term you're looking for there is FIBs. It could stand for Friendly Illinois Buddies. But it doesn't.

White92's picture

Well written Matt. Keeping Turbisky from picking up the first downs with his legs is the key to winning this thing in my opinion, because I doubt he can do it with his arm. Alexander should get at least 1 pick.

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