Five things to watch in Packers vs Bears: Can Green Bay finally win after a bye?

Five things to watch as the Packers take on the Bears in primetime.

Will Matt LaFleur’s Packers finally win after a bye week?

Green Bay have lost the game immediately following their bye week in each of the two seasons LaFleur has been at the helm. They have not only lost both games, they have been absolutely walloped each time.

In 2019, the Packers travelled to San Francisco and were thumped 38-7 by the 49ers, then in 2020 they went on the road to Tampa Bay and got whacked 38-10 by the Buccaneers.

The common denominator between those two opponents? Both knocked the Packers out of the playoffs in the NFC Championship game later in the season.

The 2021 Chicago Bears are not nearly of the same quality as those opponents, and if they manage to also put up 38 points on Green Bay this Sunday, it will be time to accept that this is a straight up curse.

Can Green Bay slow down David Montgomery?

When the Packers and Bears faced off at Soldier Field earlier this year, Chicago’s top running back didn’t suit up, and yet, the Bears still enjoyed a solid day on the ground.

Backup tailback Khalil Herbert carried the ball 19 times for 97 yards at a clip of 5.1 yards per carry back in October, and scored a touchdown to boot.

In a stuttering Bears offense, Montgomery is the one reliable, consistent element, and will shoulder much of the responsibility for keeping Aaron Rodgers off the field.

If the Packers can’t limit Montgomery on the ground, they risk ending up in a close game on Sunday night.

Who slots into the slot?

After Randall Cobb suffered what Matt LaFleur described as a “significant” injury prior to the bye week, there is suddenly a job open in the Green Bay receiving corps.

The natural fit to replace Cobb would appear to be Amari Rodgers, who was drafted to be a weapon out of the slot well before number 18 made his return to Titletown.

However, Amari has not hit the ground running during his rookie year, being used sparingly on offense and struggling in his role as a returner.

The rise of Equanimeous St. Brown may earn him more snaps in Cobb’s absence, and EQ clearly has the trust of QB1, who has spoken glowingly about him on multiple occasions.

LaFleur is likely to mix and match where his receivers line up against the Bears, whether it be EQ, Amari, Allen Lazard or even Davante Adams, who can be a nightmare when lining up inside.

Justin Fields

Fields will return to the Chicago lineup this week, a piece of information Bears Head Coach, Matt Nagy, was kind enough to share rather than keeping the Packers guessing until Sunday.

Andy Dalton may be the more experienced quarterback, but he is also the more predictable of the two, and would definitely have been easier to plan for than Fields.

The key for Green Bay’s defense will be forcing Fields to play from the pocket and not letting him create magic with his legs. If they can do that, the rookie will almost certainly throw up a few interceptable passes which could help the Packers pull away.

Green Bay’s cornerback rotation

The big headline out of Green Bay this week was that Jaire Alexander returned to practice, however, he’s not the only Packers cornerback making a comeback.

That’s right, Kevin King will return this week after (another) injury, and soon enough Packers twitter will be inundated with vitriol towards the much-maligned corner.

King has been just fine this year, no better, no worse, but Rasul Douglas has clearly outplayed him.

Despite this, the Packers seem to have been reluctant to start Douglas over King, will that change this weekend?

It’s possible King gets snaps in the slot, but Chandon Sullivan has improved in that role in recent action and has not been such a frequent target of opposing teams’ quarterbacks.

Between Douglas, King, Sullivan and Eric Stokes, Joe Barry and Jerry Gray have some decisions to make as to how they will divide the snaps versus the Bears.

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Mark Oldacres is a sports writer from Birmingham, England and a Green Bay Packers fan. You can follow him on twitter at @Marko7LW

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Comments (14)

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Packerlifer's picture

December 11, 2021 at 04:03 pm

As long as they don't get caught napping by an aroused and inspired Bears team there shouldn't be too much worry about losing this one. Get out front and get them down early and the despatch should be fairly routine.

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packer132's picture

December 11, 2021 at 04:05 pm

Packers defense has improved since the first game against the Bears in October. Montgomery didn't play, but I expect Barry to have a focus of stopping the run and making Fields throw the ball. The rookie QB will force things, and expect at least one interception by the Green Bay defense. Hicks looks to be out along with Mack for the Bears on D, which is a nice surprise. Rodgers should have an easier time with short throws and hopefully Packers run with Dillon and Jones all day. Packers should pull away in the 3rd quarter to win, 34-20.

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michael562's picture

December 11, 2021 at 05:58 pm

I don't see Mack on the report at all....

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Guam's picture

December 11, 2021 at 06:19 pm

Mack had season ending foot surgery a week or two ago. Packers won't see him until next year.

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packer132's picture

December 11, 2021 at 07:33 pm

Mack is out for the season;
Bears' Khalil Mack out the rest of the 2021 season with ...
https://theathletic.com/news/bears-khalil-mack-out...
Nov 20, 2021 · Bears pass rusher Khalil Mack has been placed on injured reserve with a foot injury and will undergo season-ending surgery, coach Matt Nagy said. Mack hasn't played since Week 7 due to the injury.

Is Accessible For Free: True
Author: The Athletic Staff

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Thegreatreynoldo's picture

December 12, 2021 at 03:19 am

404: This page could not be found.

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joejetson's picture

December 11, 2021 at 04:17 pm

Packers 35
Bears 13

The Pride of Ownership.

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Turophile's picture

December 11, 2021 at 04:24 pm

Calculated pressure will mess up a great many rookie QBs. Also, Fields can be slow to get rid of the ball.

Therefore, a little more pass rush should make it awkward for the Bears. No need to go crazy (like KC did on Love), just add a few sneaky blitzes and I think the Packers win without many surprises. A couple of knockdowns can soon make a QB jittery........and for that matter less accurate.

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HawkPacker's picture

December 11, 2021 at 05:02 pm

Good call Turophile. Also, if I might add, when rushing Fields, keep him in the pocket!

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Packerlifer's picture

December 12, 2021 at 07:15 am

https://www.si.com/nfl/packers/news/packers-vs-bears-three-reasons-to-wo...

Always a little reminder not to overlook an opponent.

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Coldworld's picture

December 12, 2021 at 09:09 am

I am not sure that I agree with the premise in that article that the Bears aren’t bad. I don’t underestimate Quinn, but taking out Mack and Hicks is equivalent to not having Jenkins and Bakh.

That said, it’s foolish to ever expect a division game to be easy. The Bears will play hard and have a lot to prove. Montgomery, if fully effective, is a real threat, but now I think we have an equally potent run game and the capability to pound their line as well.

Unless we get ahead early and significantly, I suspect this will be a hard, very physical game. Let’s hope we jump out fast, because the key is no more injuries, and this could easily be the kind of game that tends to result in them.

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Packerlifer's picture

December 12, 2021 at 11:29 am

Yeah, I agree it's best if the Packers can come out and get them down and out early. If this turns into a close, down-to-the-wire or come from behind late it could create a lot of problems for the rest of the schedule and the post season.

Coming off the bye there's a chance it could take the Packers a little while to "get going."

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PatrickGB's picture

December 12, 2021 at 11:08 am

Like most of us here I see this as a tough and hard fought game. Other than Adams I am not impressed with our receivers and tight ends. Also, I see Montgomery as a real threat. The Packers history after a bye is not good. I also see a threat from their special teams. My biggest wish is that there are no more injuries.

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GVPacker's picture

December 12, 2021 at 04:19 pm

No reason to believe" Da Bears Still Don't Suck" Packers 31 Da Bears 14!

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