5 things to watch in Sunday’s Chicago Bears-Green Bay Packers game at Soldier Field — plus our Week 13 predictions – The Denver Post


The Chicago Bears and Green Bay Packers will meet for the second time this season Sunday at Soldier Field.

A lot has happened since the Packers won the first meeting 27-10 in Week 2 at Lambeau Field.

The Bears offense took off behind Justin Fields’ and the running game but now faces major health problems. The Bears defense lost several of its most important players to trades and injuries. And Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers has dealt with injuries in a 4-8 season.

As kickoff approaches, here’s our snapshot look at the game.

Player in the spotlight

Aaron Rodgers

The last time Rodgers played at Soldier Field, he was yelling “I own you!” to bird-flipping Bears fans in a 24-14 Packers win. It was one of Rodgers’ 24 wins as a starter against the Bears with just five losses.

He has a 108.1 career passer rating in the rivalry, including a 125-plus rating in each of his last five games against the Bears.

“I’ve enjoyed the rivalry over the years and been a part of a ton of these games,” Rodgers told reporters in Green Bay this week. “It’s a great rivalry, been around for a long, long time. Happy to be on this side of it, but a lot of good memories at Soldier Field.”

Rodgers is recovering from a right thumb fracture from earlier in the year and a ribs injury that knocked him out of the Packers’ loss to the Philadelphia Eagles in Week 12. But he still plans to play Sunday. And getting to play the Bears once more is just part of it.

“Pride, for one,” he said. “Love of the game. They’re paying me to play. Lot of different issues, but I love to compete and I want to be out there with my guys.”

The Bears defense might be catching a break facing an ailing Rodgers, but the unit is dealing with its own rash of injuries, including safety Eddie Jackson being declared out for the season with a Lisfranc injury in his left foot.

Defensive coordinator Alan Williams knows it’s never an easy test against Rodgers.

“It’s always a good time to get Aaron Rodgers — if you can get him,” Williams said. “I remember there was a year where he had a calf (injury), and he was struggling and he still put up some good numbers. … You just have to make sure that you mix it up, give him different looks and not show him the same thing all the time. And there’ll be some times that you do fool him and there’ll be some times that you don’t.”

Pressing questions

As Justin Fields returns to the field, how will his shoulder injury affect his play?

Fields was limited in practice Wednesday but returned in full Thursday and Friday as he continues to recover from a separated left shoulder. He has now been given the greenlight to start Sunday against the Packers.

Fields said Wednesday that his return to action was not about being 100% but being able to perform up to his standards.

“There’s a few people in this league that are quote-unquote 100% (in Week 13),” Fields said. “So I’m just going to go out there and if I feel like I can help my team win … and put points on the board, then I’m going to go out there and play.”

Wide receiver Chase Claypool said Fields’ return to practicing in full “gets the juices going.”

“I can’t tell any difference from when he was healthy (before the injury) to now, so I think that’s a good sign,” Claypool said.

With Eberflus announcing on Friday that backup quarterback Trevor Siemian will need season-ending surgery on his oblique, the Bears’ backup quarterback Sunday will be Nathan Peterman, who hasn’t thrown a pass in a game since 2020 and hasn’t started a game since 2018. The Bears also signed quarterback Tim Boyle off the Detroit Lions practice squad to add to the depth in the room.

Keep an eye on …

The running games

With quarterback injuries on both sides, Bears and Packers running backs could be in for plenty of work.

The Packers gave up 363 rushing yards to the Eagles in Week 12, and quarterback Jalen Hurts had 157 of them. It remains to be seen if the Bears can hurt them in the same way with a recovering Fields.

But David Montgomery had 122 rushing yards against the Packers in the teams’ first meeting this season, and Darrynton Evans could see some work after he had nine carries for 34 yards Sunday.

“Philly does a really nice job running the football a bunch of different ways, and we’ve shown that a lot throughout the year, a bunch of different ways,” Getsy said. “We hope to be able to have some of that success too.”

On the flip side, the Packers rushed for 203 yards against the Bears in the Week 2 meeting, led by Aaron Jones (132 rushing yards) and A.J. Dillon (61 rushing yards).

But Jones (shin/glute) and Dillon (quad) are also dealing with injuries and were limited Wednesday and Thursday in practice.

Paging all receivers

Darnell Mooney’s season-ending left ankle injury was a big blow for a Bears passing game that still hasn’t hit its stride 12 games into the season.

So much of the talk this week around Halas Hall was about how the Bears will fill the production of their top receiver, who had 40 catches for 493 yards and two touchdowns.

“You don’t replace Moon,” Getsy said. “Moon means so much to this football team — his approach, work ethic, intelligence, flexibility to move him around. And obviously the talent is there too. The guys have got to step up. Whether it’s a collective or whatever, we’ve got to find a way to get that production from other areas. But he’s been such a good leader, good example of the play style and the mentality of this football team. That was a tough blow.”

Claypool and Byron Pringle saw the most offensive snaps and catches among wide receivers Sunday. Claypool, whom the Bears acquired from the Pittsburgh Steelers last month, had two catches for 51 yards on five targets, and Pringle had two catches for 12 yards and a touchdown on two targets.

“They presented some opportunities that allowed Chase to go in one-on-one situations, and we took advantage of those opportunities,” Getsy said. “I wish we would have converted on that one fade in the end zone too. … You guys can all see him being more comfortable and being able to play multiple positions and move around now. That’s who we are. We’re a flexible offense. We like to put people in a bunch of different places rather than just lining up and playing.”

Injury report

The biggest issues to watch this week are in the Bears secondary.

Cornerback Kyler Gordon and safety Jaquan Brisker haven’t practiced the last two weeks while in the concussion protocol and have been declared out for Sunday’s game. With Jackson out, the Bears will be thin at safety, at which veteran DeAndre Houston-Carson and rookie Elijah Hicks will start . Cornerback Kindle Vildor also was limited this week by an ankle injury and is listed as questionable.

Right tackle Riley Reiff was limited in practices Thursday and Friday as he recovers from a back injury. But Eberflus indicated that Reiff is still in line to start Sunday. Fellow offensive tackle Larry Borom, meanwhile, didn’t practice this week with ankle and knee injuries and has been declared out for Sunday.

Wide receiver Dante Pettis, who missed two practices this week with an illness, was back as a full participant Friday and is clear to play Sunday.

For the Packers, left tackle David Bakhtiari underwent an appendectomy Friday and was ruled out for Sunday. Safety Darnell Savage (foot) is doubtful after leaving Sunday’s game against the Eagles and not practicing this week. Linebacker De’Vondre Campbell (knee) and receiver Romeo Doubs (ankle) are questionable.


Brad Biggs (6-6)

The Packers have won the last seven meetings, and it hasn’t been close — the average margin of victory has been 13.1 points. The last five quarterbacks to play against the Bears have combined for a 113.5 passer rating, completing 72.7% of pass attempts. With little pass rush to harass banged-up Aaron Rodgers (ribs, right thumb), it could be a high-scoring affair. The Packers are struggling defensively and were gashed for 363 rushing yards by Jalen Hurts and the Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday. If Justin Fields plays, the Bears have a chance to hang in — provided they can avoid turnovers.

Packers 34, Bears 27

Colleen Kane (7-5)

Aaron Rodgers is 24-5 against the Bears. Is it really wise to pick against him? Even if he’s dealing with thumb and ribs injuries? Even if Justin Fields could return from a left shoulder injury? A depleted Bears defense couldn’t slow down Mike White in Week 12. So even during this mess of a Packers season, I’m not sure the Bears can avoid their eighth straight loss in the rivalry. But at least it would be more enjoyable if Fields can play. And more competitive too.

Packers 26, Bears 24

Dan Wiederer (7-5)

When Aaron Rodgers said at the start of the week that he got good news from his scans, he might as well have been talking about his video studies of the Bears’ badly depleted defense, which can’t generate much pressure or create turnovers consistently. No wonder Rodgers is pushing so hard to play through a broken right thumb and injured ribs for his 4-8 team. In September, he carved the Bears up in a 17-point victory at Lambeau Field. On Sunday, the Bears will be down at least three defensive starters from that game and possibly five. Yikes.

Packers 32, Bears 23



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