January 18, 2021

Bears vs. Packers preview: 5 things to watch during the Week 12 matchup

The Packers and Bears will meet for the 201st time in the history of their storied rivalry. The Bears (5-5) enter as losers of four consecutive games and return to the field after a bye week. The Packers (7-3) have lost two of their last three games, including an overtime loss last week against the Indianapolis Colts.

Here are five things to watch in the Bears vs. Packers matchup on “Sunday Night Football”:

Can the Bears run the ball?

No matter who is at quarterback for the Bears, they need to find a way to run the ball. Running back David Montgomery should be back after missing one game due to a concussion, and he should be well rested.

This Packers defense is vulnerable against the run. Remember what Minnesota Vikings running back Dalvin Cook did to it? Look at what the Indianapolis Colts did on the ground last week against Green Bay. The Packers have surrendered 100 rushing yards on six occasions including in all three of their losses. The Bears need their offensive line to be at its best.

Bears secondary vs. Davante Adams

Packers receiver Davante Adams is their best weapon. The Bears have been lucky when it comes to avoiding teams’ top offensive talents. That won’t be the case this week. Adams is eighth in the NFL with 847 receiving yards and sixth in the league with 68 receptions. His 10 touchdown receptions ranks behind only Adam Thielen’s 11.

The Bears secondary has been one of the best in the NFL. Cornerbacks Kyle Fuller and Jaylon Johnson will have their hands full with Adams this week. Johnson said before the draft that Adams was one of the receivers he always wanted to face. He’ll have that chance this week.

“Being a competitor I am, that’s just a challenge that I’ve always wanted, just to be able to go against a guy of that caliber, who can run routes like that,” Johnson said Monday.

Bill Lazor needs to find a rhythm

Bears coach Matt Nagy handed off play calling duties to offensive coordinator Bill Lazor prior to the last game against the Vikings on Nov. 16. It didn't exactly result in an offensive epiphany. With a little more time to prepare, and a little more time for the offense to make adjustments, the Bears are hoping now is the time for things to click.

Nagy noted following the Vikings game that the Bears have to do better on second down. They continually left themselves in a hole on third down. It will be interesting to see if the Bears send the quarterback under center more in an effort to facilitate the run game. Montgomery had a lot of success early in the season doing that.

If the Bears are going to win, Allen Robinson must be involved

Two of Allen Robinson’s three 100-yard receiving performances in 2019 came against the Packers. The Bears must find ways to put the ball in Robinson’s hands, and screen passes on third-and-5 don’t cut it. That play in the waning minutes of the loss to the Vikings was Lazor’s worst play call of the night.

There was little effort to throw Robinson the ball down field against the Vikings. Frankly, though, the Bears offense was bad in every regard. The best way to reverse this slump is to give the ball to the top playmaker. When the Bears were rolling to a 5-1 start, Robinson had a good game nearly every week.

Bears vs. Lambeau Field

The 201st meeting between the NFL’s oldest rivals will have a different feel with no fans at Lambeau Field. The Packers have won 10 of the last 12 games against the Bears at Lambeau. The last Bears win at Lambeau was on Thanksgiving Day in 2015. Jay Cutler threw for 200 yards and led the Bears to a 17-13 win.

The Packers are going for win No. 100 in the series. They hold the all-time advantage at 99-95-6 (including two postseason games). The Packers are 19-5 against the Bears in games quarterback Aaron Rodgers started.

Sean Hammond

Sean is the Chicago Bears beat reporter for Shaw Media. He also contributes to high school football coverage at Friday Night Drive. Sean has covered various sports at the amateur, college and professional levels since 2012. He joined Shaw Media in 2016.