Football is the ultimate team game, but these four players in particular are going to play key roles in determining Sunday’s outcome between the Green Bay Packers and the Chicago Bears.
An X-Factor is defined as a person, in this instance, who has a strong but also unpredictable influence on an outcome. While we all know that the stars for this Packers team will have to play well if Green Bay is going to win. Sound performances from Jaire Alexander, David Bakhtiari, Christian Watson, Jordan Love, and others are going to be near musts each week for Green Bay.
However, in what very well could be a close game on Sunday, it’s the play of these four X-Factors for Green Bay, with two on offense and two on defense, that could swing the outcome one way or the other.
Packers X-Factor: TJ Slaton
As Matt LaFleur said earlier in the week, this is a Bears offense that is going to run the football. Justin Fields had over 1,100 rushing yards in 2022. Khalil Herbert’s 5.7 yards per rush was the second best average in football, and the team also added Texas running back Roschon Johnson in the draft. The best way to quickly ruin any play for an offense, whether it be a run or a pass, is with pressure up the middle. Slaton’s ability to also effectively handle double-teams along the interior will also free up one-on-one opportunities for his teammates.
I’ve been impressed with the play of the interior defensive line unit as a whole this summer. This is a group that looks much faster, with their being a greater emphasis on shooting gaps rather than eating up space. There is also added versatility to accompany that speed along with more post snaps movement to cause some chaos for the offensive line. However, with that said, the interior defensive line, which Kenny Clark said was going to look different this year, faces a difficult test right out of the gates having to contain Fields and this Bears’ run game. If Green Bay can slow Chicago on the ground, it will put Fields in obvious passing situations where the Packers defense can really shine with their ability to get after the quarterback.