This Sunday, the Green Bay Packers will travel to Soldier Field and take on the Chicago Bears. The Packers are currently 4-4 and are two games back of the Vikings in the NFC North. The Bears are currently 3-5 but have looked significantly better with rookie quarterback Mitch Trubisky at the helm. This matchup should lead to an extremely close contest that should come down to the wire.
There are three specific matchups that can decide this game:
1. Brett Hundley vs. Chicago’s Secondary
After losing Aaron Rodgers for the season three weeks ago, Brett Hundley was thrown into the fire and have struggled mightily in his first few NFL starts. In order to improve, Hundley has to be more accurate in the pocket. In about 12 quarters of football, Hundley has only completed 58.8% of his passes. That puts Hundley at 29th in the NFL in completion percentage out of all NFL starting quarterbacks. Due to his inaccuracy, Hundley has thrown only one touchdown to go with his four interceptions.
One major concern for Hundley has been Mike McCarthy’s conservative play calling. Although Hundley completed over 68% of his passes on Monday night, Green Bay’s passing attack consisted of dump-off passes and other short passes. Throughout the entire game, the Packers took no shots downfield. One can infer that the conservative game plan was due to McCarthy’s lack of trust with Hundley. Although Chicago’s secondary has looked sharp in recent weeks, the Packers will need to attempt to stretch the field in the passing game. If not, the Bears will be able to press Green Bay’s receivers at the line of scrimmage and use their pass rush to pressure Hundley early and often.
2. The Packers’ Defense vs. Jordan Howard
Last week, the Packers got torched by Lions’ quarterback Matthew Stafford. Stafford threw for 361 yards along with two touchdowns and zero interceptions. The reason for his success was the amount of time he had in the pocket. The Packers only had one sack in the entire game and Stafford was able to pick apart the secondary due to the relatively clean pocket. This week, the Packers will need to dominate the line of scrimmage and pressure rookie quarterback Mitch Trubisky.
Since Trubisky became the starting quarterback four games ago, Coach Fox has kept the offense extremely simple. The game plan every week is to run the ball often in order to set up the play action pass. However, Trubisky has looked awful in his rookie season and is only completing 47.5% of his passes. That is the lowest completion percentage out of all starting quarterbacks this season. In four games, Trubisky has only attempted 80 passes. Coach Fox clearly does not trust his rookie quarterback and will most likely lean heavily on the run again.
Due to the lack of trust in Trubisky, running back Jordan Howard has been the catalyst for this Bears’ offense. This season, Howard is averaging 4.1 yards per carry and has over 600 yards rushing with four rushing touchdowns. In the last three games, Howard had over 20 carries in each game and one can expect Howard to touch the ball often against Green Bay’s suspect defense. If the Packers plan on winning this game, stopping Howard should be high on their priority list.
3. Green Bay’s Offensive Line vs. Chicago’s Defensive Line
Another week, another concern about the offensive line for the Green Bay Packers. The Packers offensive line has been atrocious this season and I do not expect this unit to improve. The reason for the offensive line woes were the injuries to both starting tackles on the roster. Both David Bakhtiari and Bryan Bulaga missed a large portion of the season already but both of them played last week against the Lions. However, Bulaga tore his ACL in the game and will miss the remainder of the season.
The Bears currently rank tied for ninth in the league in sacks with 23. Led by pass-rushers Leonard Floyd and Akiem Hicks, this Chicago defense is nasty and are looking for blood against the Packers. With Green Bay’s shake offensive line, I expect the Bears to pressure Hundley for the entire game and to generate a couple of turnovers as a result. With the Chicago offense refusing to stretch the field, the defense will need to dominate the line of scrimmage to help generate tremendous field position in order for Mitch Trubisky and Jordan Howard to score some points.
As for my prediction, I expect the Bears to win in front of their home crowd. Hundley has not looked good as an NFL quarterback and I expect him to turn the ball over a few times against this Bears defense. I see a very low-scoring game in which the Bears will dominate the time of possession and use several field goals to win.
Prediction: Packers 10, Bears 16