Jim Owczarski, Olivia Reiner and Ryan Wood discuss the Packers' defense's 'turnover cage' and Philbin's offensive play calling against Atlanta. Olivia Reiner, PackersNews
The Green Bay Packers won their first game under interim head coach Joe Philbin on Sunday in Lambeau Field with a 34-20 victory over the Atlanta Falcons, and now Philbin is tasked with trying to get the Packers to win on the road for the first time in 2018. In fact, the Packers have lost eight straight on the road dating to last season. The Bears are 6-1 at Soldier Field and have plenty to play for, including getting closer to locking up a home playoff game.
Basics on the Bears
In the franchise’s biggest game since the Packers beat them at Soldier Field to win the division on a last-gasp deep touchdown from Aaron Rodgers to Randall Cobb in 2013, the Bears hosted the Los Angeles Rams on Sunday night and totally dominated one of the best offenses in football with four takeaways, a safety, and three sacks in a 15-6 victory. Bears quarterback Mitchell Trubisky also turned it over three times, but the Bears' defense was just too good to be denied.
Head coach Matt Nagy’s roots are in the West Coast system coming up under Andy Reid, but he runs a more modernized version of the offense not unlike what the Packers have seen against the Los Angeles Rams. Nagy does change his personnel more than Rams coach Sean McVay did, however, so while the Bears will employ motions to move the eyes of linebackers and the secondary, he’s also not afraid to have receivers or running backs throw the ball and linemen catch it.
Defensive coordinator Vic Fangio runs a 3-4 and he has a relentless pass rush both on his interior defensive line and outside with Khalil Mack.
Where the Bears rank in total defense and points allowed.
Total takeaways by the Bears' defense, six more than the second-place Cleveland Browns.
Sacks by the Bears' defense, tied for fourth with the Packers and Denver Broncos.
Players to watch
Mitchell Trubisky, QB
The second-year quarterback has come a long way since the opening game of the season, when he struggled in the second half at Green Bay. Despite missing two games with an injured shoulder, Trubisky is completing 64 percent of his passes (topping 70 percent four times) and has thrown for 21 touchdowns. He also remains a threat with his legs, having rushed for 386 yards and another three scores. That said, he can still give opponents a chance to take the ball away, having thrown 12 interceptions.
Eddie Jackson, S
The 6-foot, 202-pound second-year safety out of Alabama is on his way to the Pro Bowl as he has scored three touchdowns this season (two on interceptions, one on a fumble recovery) while also coming up with five interceptions and forcing a fumble. He came into college as a corner, so while he may still take the occasional wrong angle on his way to a tackle, he’s around the ball so often in Fangio’s defense he’s someone Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers has to account for.
Akiem Hicks, DT
Several players on the Bears' defense will make the Pro Bowl, and the 29-year-old defensive tackle seems due for his first nod. He has six sacks but has consistently wrecked the interior of offensive lines and been dominant against the run. He has also forced three fumbles.
Reasons to worry
The Bears are the best team in the division and Matt Nagy’s offense has catapulted to near the top of the league in scoring (No. 7 at 27.6 points per game), even if they are just 23rd in total offense. And Vic Fangio’s defense remains No. 3 in yards allowed and third in points allowed, creating one of the most balanced teams in football to date. In fact, the 24 points Aaron Rodgers put on the defense in the second half of Week 1 remains the fourth-highest point total the Bears have given up in a game. While the addition of Khalil Mack shortly before the opener gave the Bears confidence that they could be a playoff contender, the ensuing weeks have proved they are and they should have all the confidence in the world taking on the pedestrian Packers at home.
Reasons to relax
It’s Chicago, and there’s just something about the Bears that Rodgers loves. The Packers’ quarterback is 16-4 in his career against his rivals to the south, by far the most wins he has had against any team in the league. It doesn’t seem to matter who coaches the Bears, what future Hall of Famers they may have on defense or where they play — Rodgers just has their number. Now, for something more tangible — the Packers may have gained some confidence off their 34-point effort against Atlanta and fixed their third-down woes. If that’s the case, the offense should be more productive and if they can force Mitchell Trubisky to have to beat them, the Packers will have more of a fighting chance than their record would indicate. The Packers haven't lost at Chicago since the 2010 season.
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