The oldest and best rivalry in the NFL is renewed this weekend when the Chicago Bears host the Green Bay Packers at Soldier Field for their 201st meeting in the regular season. Well, maybe “best” is pushing it at this point since the Bears can only seem to beat the Packers once every three years or so. But hey, maybe that means they’re due, right?
It’s been the same story for over a decade at this point: Aaron Rodgers just finds ways to rip your heart out while the Bears offense struggles to play one complete quarter, let alone an entire game. That may be changing already, however, with Justin Fields getting his first start in the rivalry. Hopefully he can end the carousel of quarterbacks that Rodgers feebly attempted to name this week.
At the very least, I’m predicting this game will be a lot closer and competitive than in years past. And speaking of picks, here are my bold predictions for Bears vs. Packers this week.
Justin Fields totals 300 yards of offense
AP Photo/Rick Scuteri
I think this is it. This is the game where Justin Fields truly balls out for the first time in his young career. Matt Nagy and Bill Lazor are going to give him the keys to the offense, because the Bears will be down and the game will fall on his shoulders. With the Bears top two running backs likely out in David Montgomery (knee) and Damien Williams (COVID-19 list), they’ll have to rely on rookie Khalil Herbert to move the ball like in previous games. That’s not going to work as well as we all hope, and Fields will be asked to do more than he has before.
He’s going to rack up plenty of passing yards and probably quite a few rushing yards. The Packers haven’t faced a dual-threat quarterback like him this season (unless you count the one snap Trey Lance got in Week 3), so expect Fields to have himself a day.
Darnell Mooney picks up where he left off last season
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It may be hard to remember, but Darnell Mooney was on his way to having a career day against the Packers in the 2020 regular season finale. Mooney had 11 catches for 93 yards in the game before exiting early in the fourth quarter with an ankle injury. Who knows what more he might have done? Now, the sophomore is becoming Fields’ go-to target in the passing game, and he’s looking to pick up where he left off last year.
Mooney was tearing up the Packers secondary that had both starting cornerbacks Jaire Alexander and Kevin King. Now, both are likely out and they’re relying on guys off the street. It’s a matchup made in heaven for the Bears wide receivers, and Mooney is the one who stands to benefit the most. He’ll top 100 yards again for a big day.
Khalil Mack and Trevis Gipson both get sacks yet again
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If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Khalil Mack, Robert Quinn, and Trevis Gipson are playing on another level right now. They’re not only taking down quarterbacks at an alarming rate, but playing complete defense and contributing in the run and pass game as well. Mack and Gipson, though, are on two-game sack streaks and I’m betting that goes for a third week.
Green Bay is still without All-Pro left tackle David Bakhtiari and though their shuffled line is playing fairly well right now, the Bears can still take advantage. Sean Desai is going to have something cooked up to slow Rodgers down, and Mack and Gipson are going to be heavily involved. Mack will always get his chances, but with Jeremiah Attaochu out for the season, Gipson is going to see even more playing time.
Jaylon Johnson gets his pick against Davante Adams
AP Photo/Kamil Krzaczynski
Much like Kyle Fuller shadowed Davante Adams in last season’s finale, don’t be surprised to see Jaylon Johnson do the same in this game. Johnson has been elevating his game this season, grading well in many different categories, according to Pro Football Focus’ Brad Spielberger. Now he faces one of the most dangerous receivers in the league, who just happens to be tearing it up on the field yet again. Unstoppable force, meet immovable object.
Johnson has long talked up his desire to cover Adams in the NFL and though he got a chance to face him once last season, he’s a different player now. Adams will be heavily involved in the gameplan and utilized both outside and inside. Don’t be surprised to see Johnson shadow him nearly every play. If he does, he’s coming away with a rare Rodgers interception.
Rodgers leads the Packers on a last-second field goal for the win
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Look, I don’t feel good about this. Just because I predict something doesn’t necessarily mean I’m rooting for it. But the Packers have shown me time and time again they will always find a way to make my life miserable by beating the Bears, particularly in dramatic fashion. So, here it goes.
Packers kicker Mason Crosby is coming off arguably the worst performance of his long career. He missed three potential game-winning kicks before finally connecting on the fourth in overtime. He’s had struggles before and usually works himself out of them. Will it happen at Soldier Field?
We’ve seen Rodgers drive down the field so many times with just seconds on the clock. It just seems inevitable. I’m sorry for putting the bad juju out but it’s just how I see it going down. Crosby hammers home another heartbreaking loss to the Packers.