Chapter 204 | WSAU News / Talk 550 AM · 99.9 FM

They’ve been there from the start, and they’ll be together again Sunday night at Lambeau Field when the Green Bay Packers welcome the Chicago Bears to the 204th meeting of the league’s oldest, and certainly, best rival. National Football League. The Packers have 13 NFL championships on their record, the Bears have the second most with 9. The two franchises have combined to place more than 50 players and coaches in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. The all-time streak leans in favor of Green Bay with 101 wins, to 94 with six draws. They split two playoffs, Chicago winning the Western Division’s 33-14 Playoff Round in 1941 while the Packers won their most recent NFC championship with a 21-14 win at Windy City a decade ago. This match is the essence of professional football.

So what will the next chapter look like as it starts at 7:20pm CST?

When the packers have the ball.

Although not quite a mid lane monster when Dick Butkus or Brian Urlacher controlled the midline in the linebacker position, Chicago’s defense this year is still the strong point of the 4-8 lineup. Chicago are 9th in allowed yards per game and they are 6th in pass defense with an average of 207.8 yards. While the tundra hasn’t completely frozen over, it’s still December football and my guess is the Packers will put the focus on the running game. Aaron Jones came back from the MCL and sprained in the game against the Rams and had a bye week to get a stronger knee and AJ Dillon became the batter the Green Bay expected when they brought him in. round two last year. Running it right at the Bears front, excluding Khalil Mack, who is currently sub-injured, would do two things, keep the chain in good shape and put less stress on Aaron Rodgers’ still-healing left little finger. He performed very well despite injury in three games before saying goodbye and said this week’s time off has really accelerated the healing process.

There will be some wide-record juggling with the second Chicago team after the Packers snap a shot in the slot with Randall Cobb’s core muscle surgery on Thursday. Head coach Matt LaFleur said they will deploy a combination of strikers’ receivers, Allen Lazard, possibly Equivalent St. Brown, rookie Amari Rodgers and even Davante Adams from time to time. Regardless of alignment, route combinations will have to be quick and precise to keep the Bears’ overtaking roads still formidable. Robert Quinn has won 11 bags in 12 games and Akiem Hicks, parallel Eddie Goldman up front can squeeze the bag quickly. Hold and toss passes have been reduced to limit Rodgers’ amount of movement on the big toe but this could be the week to stretch those limits a bit more.

The Adams-Jaylon Johnson showdown will be one to watch as an aggressive second-year corner could put him in trouble against Davante’s pro run.

Finishing the red area will be important as always but early driving runs ending in touchdowns only increase the pressure on Chicago’s feeble attack to keep up and they may not be able to.

When the Bear has the ball.

Putting Justin Fields back at fullback after being missing for two weeks with a broken rib would give Chicago another five weeks to assess their future at the position. As a gifted athlete, Fields had trouble grasping the intricacies of the NFL defense, which had to rely more on his legs than his arms or head to compensate. His rookie five pass passer rating is 79, completes just 58% of his passes, and he has twice as many interceptions as touches (8 to 4). While he was able to escape the pressure, he was also captured by it, having to endure 31 sacks. Chicago, like Green Bay, will be ground-oriented with the return of David Montgomery. He missed his first meeting in October and is starting to come back. He has 566 yards in eight games and last week against Arizona, 141 yards total, 90 on the ground and another 51 yards in eight receptions. He will definitely be the focus. The Packers did a steady job running late even while deploying a lightbox. It was designed to protect themselves from the dangerous attacks they faced recently in Minnesota and Los Angeles. I’m not sure danger exists with the Bears, even if Allen Robinson is likely to return from a three-week absence and Darnell Mooney, who leads the team with 51 catches, is in the perimeter.

Look for the Packers to focus more on disabling Montgomery and his capable reserve in rookie Khalil Herbert, forcing Fields to try to beat them in the air with his ribs still sore and on a cold night price.

Chicago’s offensive line was much more effective than moving forward to defend, allowing for a total of 40 sacks this year. Preston Smith and Rashan Gary needed strong matches to close the touchline without giving Fields space to escape.

Sound coverage can give extras the opportunity to do more big plays. While Rasul Douglas had a huge 6 pick against the Rams, defensive backs could easily get 2 or 3 more picks ahead of Matthew Stafford, a veteran midfielder. A child just three months into his career might be even more generous.

Key point.

Supposedly the Packers are saying goodbye 0-2 under LaFleur but both of those games are ongoing, in San Francisco in 2019 with the team finally finishing their season in the NFC title game and last year being in Tampa, where the Buccaneers did the same in their home rematch. The Packers have lost a total of 4 games after a week’s break but this time at home and up against the Bears. The last time Chicago was a contender after a bye, Green Bay beat their door 55-14 in 2014. I’m not saying it will happen again but the Packers are finishing with the division title. three in a row and the Bears, while they will put up a good fight, are perhaps ending the Matt Nagy era.

I like Pack, 23-16. Chapter 204 | WSAU News / Talk 550 AM · 99.9 FM

Dais Johnston

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