Green Bay Packers will try to Overcome Post Bye Week Blues v. Bears

Nov 7, 2021; Kansas City, Missouri, USA; Green Bay Packers head coach Matt LaFleur watches play against the Kansas City Chiefs during the second half at GEHA Field at Arrowhead Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports
Nov 7, 2021; Kansas City, Missouri, USA; Green Bay Packers head coach Matt LaFleur watches play against the Kansas City Chiefs during the second half at GEHA Field at Arrowhead Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports /

Very little has gone wrong during Matt LaFleur’s first two seasons as head coach of the Green Bay Packers. The team has made it to two straight NFC Championship Games, they went a combined 26-6 in the regular season those years, and this season, the Packers are 9-3 through 12 games.

However, of those six total losses from 2019 to 2020, two of them have come following the Green Bay Packers bye week.

As far as why that’s happened, well, your guess is as good as mine. For such an experienced team with so many leaders and a LaFleur-led coaching staff that has never lost back-to-back games, I can’t imagine that they were unprepared—especially with extra rest.

Instead, I think the biggest factor — and remember, there’s never just one — is that Green Bay has played two really good teams on the road following their bye weeks.

In 2019, Green Bay traveled west to San Francisco for a matchup with the 49ers, who represented the NFC in the Super Bowl that season. In short, the offense couldn’t move the ball and the defense couldn’t stop San Francisco—whether that be on the ground or through the air. The end result was a 37 to 8 loss.

This past season, the Packers faced the eventual Super Bowl Champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers on the road. Again, it was a game where the offense was stifled, things quickly got out of hand, and we even saw Aaron Rodgers throw a pick-6.

In each instance, if I could choose one word to describe Green Bay’s performance, I would choose flat and they were simply outplayed.

Now, it’s not as if coming off byes has been all bad—although it has been during the regular season. The Green Bay Packers have had a bye in each of their playoff appearances under LaFleur and won those games over Seattle and Los Angeles at Lambeau Field.

As we look ahead to this week’s opponent, the Chicago Bears, they certainly aren’t of the same caliber that the 2019 49ers or 2020 Bucs are—and it’s not particularly close. Not to mention that this game will also be played at Lambeau Field rather than on the road.

Basically just pick a key stat on offense and there is a good chance that the Bears rank last or are at least very close to last. As far as the Chicago defense goes, they are without Khalil Mack for the remainder of the season and Akiem Hicks hasn’t played since Week 9–although this Packers offensive line will still have to deal with Robert Quinn, who has 12 sacks this season.

Overall, this hasn’t been the same dominant defensive unit that we’ve seen in previous years. Chicago is allowing 23.9 points per game, which ranks 22nd and they rank 18th by DVOA—an efficiency metric.

Under center for the Bears will be Justin Fields, who has missed the last two games with a rib injury. With Fields’ ability to create off schedule, this Green Bay Packers defensive front will have to be relentless in their pursuit of the rookie quarterback while the secondary will have to cover until the whistle is blown.

On the year, Fields has a 58.1 percent completion rate with 6.9 yards per attempt. He also has four touchdown passes, eight interceptions, and he’s been sacked 31 times in 10 appearances.

On Wednesday’s injury report, a few of the more notable names listed included Allen Robinson, who hasn’t played since Week 9, and was a limited participant, as was Akiem Hicks. Running back David Montgomery, who has 566 rushing yards in eight games this season, was listed as a non-participant. Below is a look at the rest of the Chicago injury report.

The Green Bay Packers may be 0-2 off byes during the Matt LaFleur era, but they are by far the more talented team this week, whereas that hasn’t always been the case in 2019 and 2020.

Now, of course, as we all know, just because the Packers are the superior team that doesn’t mean that will guarantee victory—as they say in the NFL, “any given Sunday.” But without question, this is absolutely a game that Green Bay should win, and then we will no longer have to discuss LaFleur being winless off a bye.

In the first two instances, it’s easy to brush those losses off since San Francisco and Tampa Bay were among the league’s best at those respective times and those games did come on the road. But if the Packers suffer their third bye week loss under LaFleur while at home and against an inferior opponent, then the coaching staff may have to begin looking into making some changes to their bye week schedule in the coming years.