Rodgers, Fields flipped the script in Week 1. Will roles reverse again in Week 2?

·3 min read

If it feels like the NFL is a little upside-down entering Week 2, that's because, well, it is.

Last year's division winners came out of the carnage that was Week 1 with a 3-4-1 record. The reigning champs in the AFC North (Bengals), NFC East (Cowboys) and NFC West (Rams) went 0-3. The teams finishing last in those divisions in 2021 — Ravens, Giants and Seahawks — started 3-0 in '22. Heck, Seattle was the only NFC West team not to make the playoffs last year and is the only one which started 1-0 this year.

That's not all.

Aaron Rodgers, the 38-year-old two-time reigning league MVP, posted a 67.6 passer rating indoors against a Vikings team that went 8-9 last year. Meanwhile, Chicago's Justin Fields, the 23-year-old still-wet-behind-the-ears second-year pro, notched an 85.7 passer rating in a driving downpour and on a flooded field against a 49ers team that reached the NFC title game last year.

And now Rodgers and Fields meet in Lambeau Field on Sunday night — the 17th straight year the Packers and Bears have played in prime time.

Rodgers is 0-1 with some of the Cheeseheads across the border already muttering about a must win to avoid starting 0-2 with two division losses. Fields, meanwhile, is 1-0 and being hailed for the kind of resiliency, toughness and off-schedule playmaking ability that turned heads his way as a first-round talent at Ohio State.

"I think he looks more decisive than last year," said Packers coach Matt LaFleur, whose team went 2-0 against Fields last year and has won six straight against the Bears.

"The 49ers are a tough football team, and Chicago battled them and were more physical than San Fran."

And more resilient, thanks in large part to a young quarterback the Vikings and the rest of the NFC North should be dealing with long after Rodgers and Kirk Cousins are done playing.

Fields started the game completing three of nine passes for 19 yards, one interception and a 2.8 passer rating as the Bears didn't cross their own 35-yard line en route to a 10-0 halftime deficit.

"He was able to move all that stuff aside at halftime," Bears rookie coach Matt Eberflus said Wednesday.

Indeed.

In the second half, Fields completed six of eight passes for 101 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions. The Bears scored 19 unanswered points and won 19-10 as a seven-point underdog.

"He just figured out how he was going to grip the ball better, how he was going to operate," Eberflus said. "… That's what, to me, is outstanding. What an outstanding thing for a young quarterback to have that mental toughness."

And yet Da Bears are 9 ½-point underdogs against Green Bay because just about everyone is expecting Rodgers and the Packers to help restore some order to the league in Week 2.

Especially in prime time. The Packers have won 12 straight prime-time games with Rodgers completing 73.1% of his passes for 3,045 yards, 34 touchdowns, two interceptions and a 122.3 passer rating. Rodgers also owns the league's best career passer rating in prime time (106.3).

And, oh yeah, the Packers have won 13 straight at home and are a league-best 22-2 at Lambeau since LaFleur was hired in 2019. They've also beaten the Bears 12 of the last 14 times the teams have met in Green Bay.

So, yeah, some NFL order should be restored Sunday, at least in the NFC North, right?

Maybe. Maybe not. Of the 15 teams that have started 1-0, 10 of them didn't make the playoffs last season.