Bears vs. Packers — What to Watch 4

Key matchup

A seasonlong quest to establish a running game to facilitate the development of Justin Fields continues against a Packers defense that might be better than the 49ers’ defense the Bears struggled against last week.

Running backs David Montgomery (17 carries, 26 yards, 1.5 average) and Khalil Herbert (9-45, 5.0, one touchdown) combined for 26 carries for 71 yards (2.7 average) against the 49ers. They’ll likely have to be more productive against the Packers to pull off another upset.

The onus is on the Bears’ interior line of center Sam Mustipher and guards Cody Whitehair and Teven Jenkins/Lucas Patrick to be better in Week 2. The Packers counter with run-stopping nose tackle Kenny Clark and linebacker De’Vondre Campbell, who had 146 tackles last year and 11 last week against the Vikings.

The Bears didn’t give up on the run and still ended up with 99 rushing yards against the 49ers. The perseverance was as encouraging to players as much as anything. Now they have to take a step forward against another quality defense.

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The Packers, who lost their opener 23-7 to the Vikings on the road, have never lost consecutive regular-season games in three seasons under Matt LaFleur. They’re 9-0 in games after a loss, averaging 31.9 points and winning by an average of two touchdowns.

Player to watch

Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers is 23-4 with a 109.2 passer rating (61 touchdown passes, 12 interceptions) in the 27 games he has started and finished against the Bears. He’s 10-1 against the Bears since 2016.

But Rodgers has been even better recently, going 4-0 with a 141.5 rating (14 touchdown passes, no interceptions) the last two seasons. The last Bear to intercept Rodgers was safety Eddie Jackson in a 24-17 Bears victory in 2018.

“You’re facing one of the best in history,” Bears defensive coordinator Alan Williams said. “That’s a guy that has a ton of experience. You’re not going to trick him. You’re not going to fool him. He’s super-accurate. Can throw from different angles. One of the best ‘B’-gap escape guys in football. You have to play a complete football game”

X-factor

Can Matt Eberflus give the Bears a game-day coaching advantage? The win over the 49ers was marked by second-half adjustments — they outscored the Niners 19-3 in the second half.

Maybe that was just a one-off, but this game will be a good test of that. The Bears have been consistently outfoxed by the Packers in the Rodgers era on both sides of the ball. The Packers outscored them 121-54 in the second half in eight games under Matt Nagy — and 25 of the Bears’ points came after they fell behind 41-10 in 2020 and 21-3 in the fourth quarter in 2019.

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