Bears

Chicago Bears vs. Green Bay Packers preview: 5 things to watch in Week 2

Chicago Bears quarterback Justin Fields runs for a first down during the first half Sunday, Dec. 12, 2021 against Green Bay Packers in Green Bay, Wis.

LAKE FOREST – The Bears and Packers will resume their storied rivalry in a prime-time game on “Sunday Night Football.”

The Bears are coming off of an upset victory over the San Francisco 49ers in Week 1, while the Packers lost their opener to the Minnesota Vikings.

This will be the 205th meeting between the two franchises. The Packers have won six consecutive games against the Bears and lead the series 103-95-6 (including the playoffs). Packers head coach Matt LaFleur is 6-0 against the Bears since taking over in Green Bay.

The Packers are closing in on the all-time wins lead among NFL teams. A win Sunday would bring the Packers (782 wins) within one of the Bears (784 wins). The New York Giants are the only other NFL team with more than 700 wins.

Here’s what to watch for in the latest edition of Bears-Packers.

1. Rebound for Aaron Rodgers?

The Packers suffered from some uncharacteristic struggles last week in the opener against the Vikings. They struggled in their opener last year, too, and things worked out just fine the remainder of the season.

All eyes will be on Rodgers and the Packers’ offense Sunday. As nine-point favorites at home, the Packers are expected to win a game like this. But with injuries on the offensive line and new faces at receiver, can the Packers really turn this around in one week?

Rodgers still is the two-time defending MVP. But the Packers need to eliminate miscues in the passing game and capitalize in the red zone.

2. Luke Getsy’s return to Green Bay

Several Bears will be returning to their former home, notably Bears offensive coordinator Luke Getsy. The first-year coordinator was the quarterbacks coach for the Packers. Getsy spent seven of the past eight years coaching in Green Bay in various roles.

Also returning to Green Bay is Bears veteran offensive lineman Lucas Patrick. Patrick spent six years in Green Bay. Patrick is the honorary captain for the Bears this week as he returns to play his former team.

“I’m not going to sit here and bash an organization because I wouldn’t be here today standing with you all if it weren’t for the opportunity afforded to me,” Patrick said. “I had a lot of memories there with close family and friends.”

Like Patrick, receiver Equanimeous St. Brown signed with the Bears as a free agent over the offseason. St. Brown was a 2018 sixth-round draft pick by the Packers.

3. Will the Bears’ offense show improvement?

The Bears’ rushing attack did not impress during the season opener. The offensive line struggled to create holes in the first half. David Montgomery finished with 26 rushing yards on 17 carries. That has to improve moving forward.

The Bears are using a new run-blocking scheme. It’s fair to give the Week 1 struggles a pass for now, but the run game has to improve for this offense to have any balance and to find more success in play action.

As for the passing game, nobody outside of Montgomery caught more than one pass. Although the Bears won last week, quarterback Justin Fields completed only eight passes. Tight end Cole Kmet and receiver Darnell Mooney need to be more involved.

4. Bears’ youngsters in high-pressure environment

Bears rookies Jaquan Brisker, Kyler Gordon and Dominique Robinson all impressed in their debuts. On offense, throw in left tackle Braxton Jones, too. Now those rookies have to go into a tough environment at Lambeau Field against a Packers team that has had its way with the Bears in recent years.

Rodgers almost certainly will target Brisker and Gordon in the secondary. NFL teams love to pick on rookies in the secondary. With two in the Bears’ secondary, Rodgers has no reason to throw the ball anywhere near veterans Jaylon Johnson or Eddie Jackson.

“They say it’s crazy over there, so I’m expecting it to be super loud,” Gordon said. “Crazy hype, the fans will be all about the game and into the game, and I’m just expecting it to be a wild atmosphere.”

5. All eyes on Fields

“Sunday Night Football” is the NFL’s prime-time event. This likely will be one of the most-watched Bears games of the season. The Bears have only three prime-time games, and this is their only “Sunday Night Football” appearance this season.

A matchup against their biggest rival will put a spotlight on the Bears and their young quarterback. The NFL world will be watching Fields closely. This game shouldn’t be a referendum on where the Bears are at under this new regime, it’s too early in the Matt Eberflus and Ryan Poles era, but it will nonetheless become one.

In December, Fields had a phenomenal first half against the Packers at Lambeau on “Sunday Night Football” but couldn’t sustain it. If he can put together a complete game against the Packers, Bears fans will leave Sunday feeling really good about the future – win or lose.

Sean Hammond

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.