It has been a rough stretch for the Bears against the Green Bay Packers.
The Bears are 3-19 in their last 22 contests against the Packers, dating back to 2011. Currently, they’ve lost four consecutive and nine of the last 10. Suffice to say, Bears fans won’t be sad if this is quarterback Aaron Rodgers’ last season in Green Bay.
The rivalry is renewed again at noon Sunday at Soldier Field in Chicago. Here are five things to watch for.
1. Bears rookie RB Khalil Herbert
Running back David Montgomery remains out with a knee injury, and Damien Williams is likely also out after being placed on the reserve/COVID-19 list Thursday. That leaves the door open for rookie Khalil Herbert.
Herbert played well last week against Las Vegas. The Bears will rely on him even more in Week 6. The current version of the Bears’ offense needs a quality run game to function. Herbert showed last week that he can be effective. This will be a tougher test against a Green Bay defense that ranks 11th against the rush (allowing 102.2 allowed yards per game).
2. Bears defense is on a roll
Despite having the usual weapons, Green Bay’s offense has been fairly pedestrian to start the season. The Packers rank 22nd in yards per game (347.6 yards per game), 16th in passing yards per game (247) and 21st in rushing yards (100.6). They are 13th in scoring (24 points per game) and 17th in sack rate (6.47% of pass attempts).
Put it up against a Bears defense that is coming off back-to-back solid performances and it creates an intriguing matchup. The Bears should find ways to pressure Rodgers, while Rodgers will try to attack the Bears’ more inexperienced players like defensive backs Kindle Vildor and Duke Shelley.
3. Davante Adams vs. the world
No receiver has been a more reliable target in the NFL than Green Bay’s Davante Adams. He leads the league in receptions (42) and receiving yards (579) entering Week 6. He ranks third in NFL Next Gen Stats’ “percent share of team’s air yards,” which measures how much of a team’s deep yards a player accounts for. Only Houston’s Brandin Cooks and Cincinnati’s Ja’Marr Chase rank higher.
The matchup to watch in this game is Adams vs. Bears cornerback Jaylon Johnson. Expect to see them near each other frequently.
“He’s a No. 1 target,” Johnson said of Adams. “At the end of the day, they’re going to force the ball to him regardless of if he’s open or he’s not open. And, of course, he does a good job of getting open.”
4. Rodgers last trip to Soldier Field in a Packers uniform?
Drama overshadowed the Packers’ offseason. Football fans know the story well. In the end, Rodgers returned for at least one more season, but there’s a possibility this might be it for him in Green Bay. If that’s the case, this could be his last trip to Soldier Field in a Packers uniform.
Bears fans can only hope.
Rodgers showed some love toward Chicago this week in his media availability, saying he enjoys visiting the city every year. He said he grew up watching the Cubs and Bulls on WGN. He wouldn’t go so far as to say he would consider playing for the Bears.
“It’s just not going to happen,” Rodgers said.
5. The Mike Pettine effect
The secret weapon in Halas Hall this week is former Packers defensive coordinator Mike Pettine. The Bears brought him on board as a senior defensive assistant this year after he was ousted from his position in Green Bay.
It’s not going to make the difference between a win and a loss, but it’s nice to have someone who was recently on the other side.
“All of our coaches help and assist with ideas in how we want to create the plan,” Bears defensive coordinator Sean Desai said. “And so he’s got other information that he still presents those ideas and if we see it fit into our plan, you know, we’re not reinventing the wheel here on defense. We play a certain brand of defense and we play a certain style of defense, and that’s what we’re gonna do.”