The wait is over Bears fans.
On Sunday night, the NFL’s biggest rivalry will play its 197th matchup. Dating back to 1921, the Green Bay Packers own a 96-94-6 edge over the Bears.
Green Bay has dominated the series as of late winning four straight and 14 of the last 16 meetings.
A lot of excitement lies behind the Bears’ new look squad under head coach Matt Nagy and even though it is a daunting task to go to Lambeau Field and win, this group is much more poised than year’s past.
Here is a look at a few keys to the game.
Trubisky must continue his progression
Nine touchdowns (7 passing and 2 rushing) in 12 starts won’t turn any heads. But last year’s No. 2 overall pick was a raw rookie who was been held back by his offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains and head coach John Fox.
Fast forward a few months and Trubisky has Nagy, offensive coordinator Mark Helfrich along with quarterbacks coach Dave Ragone and veteran backup Chase Daniel to help him stay calm.
I don’t expect Trubisky to be a stud from the jump, but he should be better suited to play to his comfort level as a run pass option quarterback. It should be fun to see how Trubisky handles the pressure in a tough Green Bay environment.
Rattling Rodgers is essential
The 34-year-old Rodgers owns a 15-4 career record against the Bears, tossing 42 touchdowns and just four interceptions overall. He has 21 touchdowns and one interception over the last seven games. Rodgers was held to zero touchdowns for the first time in a Dec. 18, 2016 win in Chicago.
Recently acquired All-Pro pass rusher Khalil Mack will be on a pitch count while Leonard Floyd will be limited with the club on his hand, but the duo will be asked to do one thing best, get after Rodgers.
Add in Eddie Goldman, Akiem Hicks, Roy Robertson-Harris and Aaron Lynch, and Vic Fangio will be drawing up plenty to make Rodgers uncomfortable from the jump. The Bears have yet to slow down Rodgers for 60 minutes, but could this be the time?
Howard and Cohen have all the tools
Green Bay has done a heck of a job slowing down Jordan Howard the past two seasons, holding him to 3.84 YPC, 55 YPG and two rushing touchdowns in total. In Howard’s defense, the Bears were playing from behind often and being led by Fox and Loggains, but still those aren’t pretty numbers.
Howard’s best game came late in 2016 when he totaled 21 touches for 113 yards and a touchdown. Nagy has to make sure he utilizes his workhorse back alongside second-year man Tarik Cohen. The two on the field together can serve as mismatches.
Speed kills and Cohen with wide receivers Allen Robinson, Taylor Gabriel and Anthony Miller and tight end Trey Burton give the Bears’ offense plenty to work with. I expect a lot of creative play calls and it all starts with Howard and Cohen.
Score prediction: Bears 23, Packers 21
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