Game: Green Bay Packers @ Chicago Bears
Time & Location: Sunday 1:30 PM EST; Soldier Field; Chicago, Illinois
Previous Meeting: 2017 Week 4, Packers Won 35-14
Another week of Green Bay Packer football and the team has lost more key contributors for the season. Right tackle Bryan Bulaga is out for the season with a torn ACL, and offseason signing Martellus Bennett has been released to waivers. His replacement, Justin McCray, is questionable for Sunday’s game. This could spell trouble against a Chicago Bears team that ranks 10th in the NFL in sacks. The Bears defense could have a big day against a Packers offense that is still struggling to find its footing with Brett Hundley under center. Even with veteran lineman Kyle Long questionable with a finger injury, the Bears run game could have a big day against the Packers 23rd ranked run defense.
After starting the season strong against the Seattle Seahawks, the Packers pass rush has vanished. They have compiled only 13 sacks thus far on the season. After putting pressure on Russell Wilson on 39.4% of his dropbacks, they had a total of one sack and three knockdowns last week against the Detroit Lions. Clay Matthews is closing in on the all-time lead for Packers sacks at 72.5, which is two behind Kabeer Gbaja-Biamilla. Matthews has graded out as the 24th ranked edge defender per Pro Football Focus, which suggests that he’s been effective in areas outside of pass rushing. After a miserable showing last week, the Packers pass rush needs to improve drastically to alleviate some of the pressure from the Packers struggling 18th ranked pass defense.
Bears starting running back Jordan Howard has been the driving force behind the teams eighth ranked rushing offense. Against teams with above average run offenses, Dallas Cowboys and New Orleans Saints, the Packers defense has been dismantled. The two teams averaged 4.7 and 4.5 yards per carry respectively. Since Mitchell Trubisky has taken over at quarterback, he has graded out as the 32nd ranked quarterback. However, he has played against four pass defenses, Baltimore Ravens, New Orleans Saints, Carolina Panthers and the Minnesota Vikings, that rank in the top 12 in terms of passing yards allowed. Against the reeling Packers, he could break out depending on game flow. If the Bears get up big early, Jordan Howard could be in for an increased workload, but, if this turns into a higher scoring affair, we could see Trubisky air it out for the first time in his young career.
In recent years, the series has been dominated by the Packers, as they’ve gone 13-3 since 2010. However, this Packers team is completely different without Aaron Rodgers under center, and the Bears could have a big game if Hundley continues to be conservative against an aggressive Bears defense. If the Packers have any hope of winning this game, they need to open up the offense by threatening the Bears deep and getting rookie running back Aaron Jones going. Their defense has struggled, and has to get it turned around fast. It’ll be a total toss-up who wins this game, but Trubisky has improved with every passing week and the team is trending upward.
Final Score Prediction: Chicago Bears 20, Green Bay Packers 17
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