Haugh: Bears-Packers Preview

At long last, the Bears can prove why they carry championship expectations.

David Haugh
September 04, 2019 - 1:35 pm
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(670 The Score) The Bears host the Packers in their season opener Thursday evening at Soldier Field. Kickoff comes at 7:20 p.m., and the game can be heard on WBBM Newsradio 780.

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Here's a breakdown.

Bears 100:

Finally, the Bears can prove why Super Bowl expectations surround the 2019 season. They've been waiting for this moment since the double-doink last January. That bitter memory serves as motivation but also reminds everybody just how tenuous the kicking situation remains. The defense is elite. The offense features upgraded weapons. It falls on the shoulders of quarterback Mitchell Trubisky to make everything work. The Packers arrive for football’s oldest rivalry with a new head coach and the same old quarterback. But this game is all about the Bears, who have the ability to dominate the NFC North – and their opening-night opponent.

Most intriguing matchup: Packers left tackle David Bakhtiari against Bears outside linebacker Khalil Mack

As good as Bakhtiari is, he will need help on passing downs impeding Mack’s path to the quarterback. How will that affect other Bears pass rushers such as Leonard Floyd and Akiem Hicks on a defensive front likely to show more exotic looks under new coordinator Chuck Pagano? It would help the Packers slow Mack if they find ways to run the football effectively against a defense with no apparent weakness. A one-dimensional Aaron Rodgers is a less dangerous quarterback.

Quoting:

"If Aaron Rodgers is the quarterback, I’d never say never." -- Bakhtiari

"They’re a good defense, but nobody is scared. Everybody bleeds red. Everybody is mortal. We’re going to play our game. We’re going to play Packers football."-- Packers running back Jamaal Williams on Packers.com

Stat of the week:

The Bears were 12-0 in the 2018 regular season when allowing fewer than 24 points to opponents.

Stat of the week II:

The Bears tied for second in the NFL last season with 15 different players recording quarterback sacks. The team ranked ahead of them? The Packers, with 16.

Stat of the week III:

The Packers finished 22nd in rushing yards per game (104.2) last year but led the league in average yards per carry (5.0). Running back Aaron Jones ranked No. 1 in that category with 5.5 yards per attempt on 133 carries.

The difference:

The element of the unknown favors the Packers, but little else does in the opener on the lakefront. Rodgers maintains the ability to win any game at any time, but the Bears possess superior talent and depth. Scoring points against the NFL’s best overall defense isn’t any easier than it was last season. The Packers figure to try to establish the run behind an above-average offensive line, but chances are the Bears will use their quickness to close holes. That will create predictable passing downs when the Bears can attack Rodgers, who will be forced to improvise – except this year, his supply of playmakers isn’t quite as plentiful.

Prediction: Bears 31, Packers 19

David Haugh is the co-host of the Mully & Haugh Show on 670 The Score weekdays from 5-9 a.m. Listen to the show here. You can follow him on Twitter @DavidHaugh and email him at david.haugh@entercom.com.