Packers Final Thoughts: Run Defense will be Tested once again v. Bears

GREEN BAY, WISCONSIN - SEPTEMBER 18: Aaron Jones #33 of the Green Bay Packers runs for yards during a game against the Chicago Bears at Lambeau Field on September 18, 2022 in Green Bay, Wisconsin. The Packers defeated the Bears 27-10. (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)
GREEN BAY, WISCONSIN - SEPTEMBER 18: Aaron Jones #33 of the Green Bay Packers runs for yards during a game against the Chicago Bears at Lambeau Field on September 18, 2022 in Green Bay, Wisconsin. The Packers defeated the Bears 27-10. (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images) /

Although the 2022 season has gone far from planned for the Green Bay Packers, their matchup Sunday afternoon in Chicago is one that they should absolutely win. However, as we all know, just because they should win doesn’t mean they will.

The Packers’ offense has a great opportunity in front of them to put up some more points, while the defense will again be tested by a run-heavy Bears offense.

As I always do before kickoff, here are my final thoughts on this matchup between the Packers and Bears.

– The Packers’ offense has begun to build some positive momentum these last few weeks, scoring 31 points against Dallas and 33 against Philadelphia. The catalysts behind this success have been a strong run game, with Aaron Jones and AJ Dillon totaling 310 rushing yards in those games, and Christian Watson’s big play ability. Complimentary football has been tough for Green Bay to find, but this mix between the run and passing game has really stressed opposing defenses.

– The Packers are going to have the opportunity to build upon this success against Chicago. The Bears’ secondary is beaten up, as they are without Eddie Jackson and Kyler Gordon, along with their run defense ranking 28th in DOVA, allowing 4.7 yards per rush. This is also a Bears’ defensive front that hasn’t generated a ton of quarterback pressures.

Romeo Doubs, who is listed as questionable, could make his return on Sunday. He and Christian Watson have been on the field for only 52 snaps together this season. Adding Doubs back to the mix will take some of the attention off Watson at times and can help the run game as well, with another pass-catcher for defenses to focus on.

With David Bakhtiari out, I would expect Zach Tom to start at left tackle. This requires the least amount of movement with the four positions remaining intact, and it’s also what the Packers did in Week 9 against Detroit when Bakhtiari had to exit the game in the second half. Tom has held up well at left tackle, although he’s been aided by the quick passing game and Matt LaFleur even said not having Bakhtiari has limited the playbook in certain situations.

– Let’s see more snaps for Josiah Deguara. His versatility can open up the playbook a bit, and he’s been a solid blocker and pass catcher this season when given the chance.

– The Bears’ offense certainly isn’t as robust as Philadelphia’s, but they present a similar challenge with a mobile quarterback and an effective run game. Justin Fields has 834 rushing yards this season and 10-plus attempts in his last two appearances. David Montgomery, meanwhile, has been very good at forcing missed tackles and picking up yards after contact. He’s also very used to rushing into loaded boxes, so taking that approach certainly doesn’t guarantee success for the Packers.

– LaFleur made it clear this week that while they have to always be evaluating their game plan, the scheme doesn’t matter a whole lot if players are going to miss 22 tackles, as they did against the Eagles. LaFleur also added that, for the most part, players were in positions to make plays; they just didn’t. To slow Fields, it’s going to take all 11 defenders swarming the ball carrier.

– I would like to see Joe Barry take a similar approach against Chicago as he did in the Tennessee game, playing with six-man fronts and heavier boxes. Basically, force Fields, and his shorthanded wide receiver room, to beat Green Bay through the air, and hopefully, the secondary is better prepared this time around.

– The last time these two teams met, Chicago ran for 180 yards, averaging 6.7 yards per rush. Although the Packers’ run defense wasn’t great by any means, many of those yards were picked up with Green Bay holding a two-score lead and playing with lighter boxes as they defended against the big passing play.

– In addition to Doubs potentially returning, we could see De’Vondre Campbell as well, who is also listed as questionable. Quay Walker has played well at times but still has looked like a rookie as well. A big part of the Eagles’ success last week on the ground was due to the breakdowns at the linebacker position by Walker, Krys Barnes, and Isaiah McDuffie.

– Kenny Clark is very much feeling the effects of not having Rashan Gary on the field, as he is experiencing a lot more double-teams since Week 10 in Dallas. Green Bay’s defensive front was simply bullied by the Eagles, not able to get off blocks, ineffective with stunts, and allowing Philadelphia offensive linemen to get to the second level with ease.

– No Darnell Mooney for Chicago, but keep your eyes on tight end Cole Kmet. He has 22 targets over the last four games, according to PFF ($$), hauling in 15 receptions for 176 yards and four touchdowns.

Prediction: Packers 24 – Bears 17