The oldest and greatest rivalry is renewed on Sunday as the Chicago Bears welcome the Green Bay Packers to Soldier Field for the second matchup of the season. The rivalry has seen better days as the Packers have dominated the Bears for the last decade and neither team is close to being .500 this late in the season, something that hasn’t happened since the turn of the millennium.
But there’s always something to play for when these teams meet up. Even though it’s been reduced to draft position in the 2022 standings, there’s historical significance this weekend. The Packers can pass the Bears in all-time wins for the first time since 1920 if they get a victory. It’s only fitting the opportunity presents itself when both teams are facing one another.
Whoever winds up winning this game will do so with a battered and bruised quarterback. The Bears’ Justin Fields is likely set to return to the lineup after missing Week 12 with a left shoulder injury. For the Packers, Aaron Rodgers left last week’s game with a rib injury, but plans to play through the pain on Sunday.
The rivalry hasn’t gone the Bears’ way recently, but anything can happen when these teams meet up. Here our are bold predictions for Bears vs. Packers.
1. Justin Fields has his highest passing total of the season
ATLANTA, GEORGIA – NOVEMBER 20: Justin Fields #1 of the Chicago Bears warms up during pregame against the Atlanta Falcons at Mercedes-Benz Stadium on November 20, 2022 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Todd Kirkland/Getty Images)
All signs point to Fields returning to the lineup this week after he was a full participant in practice on Thursday. The second-year quarterback is still dealing with effects from his injured shoulder, but it doesn’t seem to be stopping him from playing against the Packers. Whether he should return at this point is another question, but since he’s expected to be back, he’s going to throw the ball more often than in previous weeks.
The Bears won’t put a lid on Fields’ impressive rushing ability, but it wouldn’t be surprising to see them scale it back a bit. Fields has carried the ball more than 10 times in five of his last six games. I expect him and the Bears to rely on more passing to limit the amount of hits Fields takes outside of the pocket. He’ll still get his runs in, but this should lead to his highest output of passing yards yet this season. He needs 209 yards to accomplish that feat.
2. David Montgomery eclipses 150 total yards
GREEN BAY, WISCONSIN – SEPTEMBER 18: David Montgomery #32 of the Chicago Bears runs the ball during the second half in the game against the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field on September 18, 2022 in Green Bay, Wisconsin. (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)
Someone who will be seeing plenty of carries is running back David Montgomery. The fourth-year back has had an up-and-down season but you can always count on him to deliver against the Packers. Montgomery is averaging over five yards per carry against Green Bay and his last 100-yard rushing game came against them in Week 2. Montgomery isn’t just dangerous when running the ball. He’s an effective pass catcher too.
With Darnell Mooney out and Fields not 100 percent, we could see more than a few screen/dump passes to Montgomery. He’s an underrated receiver who has 88 yards over his last two games. Coupled with the Packers’ inability to stop the run, Montgomery will eclipse 150 yards from scrimmage as a focal point of the Bears offense.
3. Chase Claypool catches his first touchdown pass as a Bear
Nov 27, 2022; East Rutherford, New Jersey, USA; Chicago Bears wide receiver Chase Claypool (10) runs with the ball against the New York Jets during the first half at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports
After three games of underwhelming performances, we finally saw flashes of Chase Claypool’s playmaking ability last week against the New York Jets. Claypool only caught two passes, but they went for 20 and 31 yards, the latter of which his longest play of the season. The most encouraging sign was that Claypool logged five targets and even though those came with backup quarterback Trevor Siemian, it’s proof his role in the offense is growing.
Without Mooney, the Bears desperately need someone else to step up as a receiving threat besides Cole Kmet. Claypool was brought in to be that weapon and the time has come to rely on him. Fields will use him as a big-bodied target in the red zone and he will finally come down with his first touchdown as a Chicago Bear.
4. Christian Watson finds the endzone for the 4th week in a row
Green Bay Packers wide receiver Christian Watson (9) pulls down a touchdown reception against Dallas Cowboys cornerback DaRon Bland (26) in the fourth quarter during their football game Sunday, November 13, at Lambeau Field in Green Bay, Wis. Dan Powers/USA TODAY NETWORK-Wisconsin
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Speaking of big-bodied receivers, the Packers might have themselves a really good one in rookie Christian Watson. After a slow start to the season, Watson has come on strong as of late, scoring six touchdowns in his last three games. Whether the passes are coming from Rodgers or backup Jordan Love, Watson is making things happens as his role in the Packers offense continues to grow. And now he faces a depleted Bears secondary that unfortunately is ripe for the picking.
With safety Eddie Jackson lost for the season and cornerback Kyler Gordon and safety Jaquan Brisker still not practicing due to concussions, the Bears secondary is in trouble to say the least. Watson has at least six targets in those three games and will likely be Rodgers’ top target this week, especially in the red zone. It’s looking like another feast of a day for the rookie receiver.
5. This will be Aaron Rodgers' last Packers-Bears game
GREEN BAY, WISCONSIN – SEPTEMBER 18: Aaron Rodgers #12 of the Green Bay Packers and Justin Fields #1 of the Chicago Bears embrace after the game at Lambeau Field on September 18, 2022 in Green Bay, Wisconsin. (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
Grab a glass of milk because this prediction is so spicy, you’ll need to wash it down with something. It feels like Bears fans have been celebrating the impending departure of Rodgers for years now, but the 39-year old quarterback has continued to hang around to torture them. This year truly feels different, however. Rodgers has been dealing with injuries and has seen his play drop off compared to his back-to-back MVP seasons. Now that Love appears to be improving and seeing as how the Packers are undergoing a transition period, this really feels like it could be the end for Rodgers in Green Bay.
Like when Rodgers was a young player over 15 years ago, the Packers at some point will need to see what Love offers as he waits in the wings. Rodgers did recently sign a mega extension that handcuffs the Packers financially, but he’ll be sought after again this offseason if chooses to keep playing. Something just feels as if this is how it ends in Green Bay. Rodgers’ role in the Packers-Bears rivalry won’t end in a playoff battle or a postseason thriller, but with two teams clawing for third place in the division near the end of the season. It’s unexpected to an extent, but seems fitting.