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Bears vs. Packers: A Comprehensive Guide

Take a dive into the stats, betting lines, and matchup analysis before the Bears vs. Packers Week 6 meeting.

Bears vs. Packers

Bears vs. Packers is a story older than most of us. The wins. The losses. The bad blood. The stench of cheese. How can you not be romantic about football?

Bears vs. Packers History

Where to begin? I hate the Packers. Without hesitation. What franchise could possibly be more spoiled than going from Brett Favre to Aaron Rodgers? Get some real seats in that stadium. It’s cool that you’re an “owner” and all, but that doesn’t mean I want to throw out my back on your bleacher seating. Everything about the Packers is simply, cheesy.

All-time, these two teams have faced off 201 times, representing the longest-running rivalry in the NFL. The Packers currently own the all-time series with a record of 101-95-6. Recent history, if the last 30 years is considered recent, has not been kind to Bears fans.

Bears coaches since 1982 have combined records of 29-48 against Green Bay. Average Points scored of 18.1, average points allowed of 22.2. Mike Ditka and Lovie Smith are the only coaches to win more than 2 games versus the Packers in that span.
Bears head coaches since 1982 against Green Bay

This is Bears vs. Packers.

Bad Blood – Pre-Merger

The Bears vs. Packers rivalry dates back to 1924. In that season, the rivalry game included the first-ever ejection of players for fighting during the game. Frank Hanny of the Bears and Tillie Voss of the Packers were ejected in the first half as insults turned to punches.

“The Chicago Bears myth is broken.”

– Associated Press

Entering the sixth game of the 1941 season, the 5-0 Bears seemed unbeatable. They had an average margin of victory of 31.4 points. The Packers handed the Bears their lone defeat on the season, winning 16-14. Chicago fans speculated that the game was fixed. It was suggested that the Packers had employed a “secret” defensive scheme. The world was shocked. However, the Bears would get their revenge in the playoffs with a 33-14 win over the Packers.

“I’m from Chicago and I always dreamed of playing at Wrigley Field. Then when I finally did, people screamed things and threw garbage at me. But there’s nothing like Packers vs. Bears.”

– Packers LB Ray Nitschke

In 1962, the Bears lost both games against Green Bay by a combined score of 87-7. The Vince Lombardi-led Packers went on to win their eighth championship that season. George Halas spent the offseason focused on beating Green Bay. Fast forward to 1963 and the Bears and Packers both had records of 8-1. Behind a dominant defensive performance, the Bears won the game 26-7, completing a sweep of Green Bay. The Bears won their eighth championship in 1963 after handing the Packers their only two losses on the season.

Bad Blood – The 80’s

“We call them the Green Bay Quackers. Crybabies about every little thing that doesn’t go their way.”

– Bears WR Dennis McKinnon

During their second match up of the 1986 season, Packers DT Charles Martin wore a towel with numbers written on it. Those numbers? The same numbers of Bears QB Jim McMahon (9), RB Walter Payton (34), and WR Willie Gault (83). During the game, McMahon threw an interception, giving Martin his chance. He grabbed McMahon away from the play and slammed him on his throwing shoulder into the turf. McMahon suffered a separated shoulder, ending his season. The Bears were 10-2 at the time, but losing McMahon essentially ended their hopes to repeat as Super Bowl Champs.

“They don’t like us and we don’t like them.”

– Bears Head Coach Mike Ditka

In 1989, Packers QB Don Majkowski led the Packers to a comeback with a game-winning touchdown pass. But the line judge called a penalty for being beyond the line of scrimmage when he threw the pass. The call went up to the instant replay official. Several minutes later, the call came down and the touchdown was awarded by instant replay. This ruling gave the Packers their first victory over the Bears since 1984. This play led to a change in the “illegal forward pass” rule. Bears coach Mike Ditka demanded an asterisk be placed next to the result in all team publications.

The ’90s were simply dominated by Brett Favre. No reason to relive those nightmares.

“We haven’t held up our end of the deal. We’re saying it’s a rivalry game, but both teams have to win for that to happen, and it’s our job to make it that way.”

– Bears Head Coach Lovie Smith

Bad Blood – The 2000’s

In 2006, the Bears shut out the Packers for the first time in Brett Favre’s career. Favre barely saw the field in this game, as the Bears won the time of possession handily. Favre only threw five passes in the first half as Chicago built a 16-0 lead. In the second half, Green Bay employed a heavier aerial approach, but Favre threw two picks in the process as the Bears’ defense was foaming at the mouth. Bears win 26-0.

“Driving up to Lambeau, you see this big, beautiful stadium right in the middle of this small neighborhood. And you got 60-year-old ladies giving you the finger. That’s it in a nutshell right there.”

– Bears CB Nathan Vasher

The two teams met on the last day of the 2010 season in a must-win game for Green Bay. The Packers won 10–3, clinching a last-minute playoff seed. The Bears had already secured a first-round bye. After the first two playoff matches, the rivals were set up for a postseason meeting in the NFC Championship Game. Many fans of both teams describe the game as the biggest in the history of the rivalry, with a trip to the Super Bowl on the line. The Packers ultimately prevailed 21–14 and went on to beat the Pittsburgh Steelers in Super Bowl XLV.

In the final game of the 2013 season, the Bears were fighting for their playoff lives against Green Bay. Winner takes the division, loser goes home. Cutler is back for the Bears. Rodgers is back for the Packers. With the Bears clinging to a one-point lead and only 46 seconds remaining, Rodgers targets Chris Conte. Green Bay wins 33-28.

Bears vs. Packers Betting Lines

The spread has the Bears as 4.5 point underdogs against the Packers. My models predict the Bears to be 2.5 point underdogs and 4.7 point underdogs. PFFs model predicts the Bears to be 4.5 point underdogs. 538's QB adjusted model predicts the Bears to be 3 point underdogs. 538's traditional model predicts the Bears to be 2 point underdogs.
Bears vs Packers Betting Spreads versus Predictive Models

In the above table, I have noted the spread and the projected spreads according to my two models, PFF, and 538’s two models for Bears vs. Packers. Why use two models from one source? I like to use multiple models to crosscheck each other. The more models that say something is a good bet, the more assurances you get. That’s what all of us gamblers want, assurances.

Bears vs. Packers Head Coaches Cover History

Green Bay is 6-4 against the spread since 2019 when a less than 7 point road favorite. 18-3 straight up. 4-6 on the over.

Chicago is 5-4 against the spread since 2019 when a less than 7 point home underdog. 4-5 straight up. 3-6 on the over.
Bears and Packers records Against the Spread, Straight Up, and on the Over since 2019 in similar circumstances.

Since 2019, Matt Nagy has been a seven or fewer-point home dog nine times, posting a record ATS of 5-4. Additionally, Nagy is 4-5 on the money line (Bears to win straight up) in these situations, while he is 3-6 on the over.

Since becoming the Packers head coach, Matt LaFleur has been a seven or fewer-point road favorite 10 times, posting a record ATS of 6-4. Additionally, LaFleur is 8-2 on the money line (Packers to win straight up) in these situations, while he is 4-6 on the over.

Bears vs. Packers Team Stats

Based on EPA, SUccess Rate, and DVOA:

Packers Offense ranks 10th.
Bears defense ranks 5th.
Bears offense ranks 29th.
Packers defense ranks 19th.
Bears vs. Packers NFL Ranks

The Packers’ offense is a top-10 unit. Their total offense ranks 10th in the NFL using the average of DVOA, EPA per Play, and success rate. They have the 14th ranked rushing offense, on average. Through the air, they have an average rank of ninth.

The Bears defense ranks fifth in the NFL using the same metrics for the other side of the ball. Against the pass, they have an average rank of fifth. On the ground, their defense ranks 13th. So when the Packers’ offense is on the field, we will be seeing strength against strength.

The Bears offense comes in at 29th, using those same metrics. The Bears offense shows top-10 metrics for the ground game, ranking 10th across the three sources. However, their passing attack ranks 31st. Please save us, Justin Fields.

Meanwhile, the banged-up Packers defense ranks 19th in the NFL. Green Bay’s defense has been weak against the run, ranking 27th in the NFL. Although, few teams have been able to fully commit to the ground game due to the threat posed by the Packers’ offense. Their pass defense ranks 17th in the NFL, on average.

Packers Scouting Report

Offensive Overview

Play-Caller: Matt LaFleur

Personnel Groupings: RB-TE 

  • 1-1 [3WR]: 62%
  • 1-2 [2WR]: 31%
  • 1-3 [1WR]: 4%

Third Down Conversion Rate: 42.9% (11th) 

Red Zone TD Conversion Rate: 55% (27th)

Explosive Play / Pass / Run Rate: 10% (22nd) / 11% (7th) / 7% (31st)

The Packers OL is hurting, badly. But you wouldn’t know from their tape. They have managed to maintain respectable line production despite being down their top left tackle (David Bakhtiari), guard (Elgton Jenkins), and center (Josh Myers). Although Jenkins and Myers may be back for Sunday’s game, nothing has been made clear yet. It will be up to the Bears front seven to challenge the group. While the unit has played some good fronts (NO, CIN, SF), they have not seen a challenge like the Bears to this point.

“If you had told me it’d be Yosh, Runyan, Lucas Patrick, Royce, and Billy as the starting five, I would have said, ‘Oof, I hope that turns out.’ But, man, those guys have played, they really have.”

– Packers QB Aaron Rodgers

In the run game, the Packers are middle-of-the-pack. They have struggled to generate explosive runs despite having capable RBs. The OL likely has played a factor here, but the run blocking is actually the strength of the rearranged unit. They use a varied attack in the run, with split-zone, inside/outside zone, duo, and toss looks on the call sheet. Also, they use jet motion in both the run and the pass game.

Green Bay has generated lots of explosive plays through the aerial attack. Above all, they are all about creating mismatches, especially for star WR Davante Adams. Because the Packers heavily value mismatches, they deploy Adams all around the formation. As a result, Adams has accounted for 39% of the Packers’ targets and 44% of their receiving yards.

LaFleur is a former McVay / Shanahan assistant. As a result, he tends to favor establishing the run out of passing sets (11 personnel). Additionally, The Packers are lightning quick with the personnel changes, forcing the defense onto their heels. They aim to make the defense play catch-up with subs and strike when a matching sub is not made.

Positional Breakdown

Packers offensive ranks by position group.

Strengths: QB, RB, WR, OL
Packers positional rankings on Offense

The “Pos. Rank” uses multiple position-specific stats to generate a relative ranking for each player at their position. The percentile is simply a representation of their rank. For example, Davante Adams Ranks fifth out of 106 qualifying WRs. This results in a percentile of 95% (MATH = 1 – (5/106)). In the right-most column, you can see the stats used to generate the ranking.

Offensive Line stats represent the entire unit, rather than any individual player. I believe that it is just too subjective of a stat to place statistical blame on individuals without knowing their assignments.

Defensive Overview

DC: Joe Barry

Base: 3-4

Blitz %: 25.7% (14th)

Third Down Conversion Rate: 45.5% (27th)

Red Zone TD Conversion Rate: 100% (32nd)

The Packers made a change at DC this offseason, bringing in Joe Barry to run the unit. Meanwhile, former DC Mike Pettine is now a Bears defensive assistant. The Packers are currently down their top EDGE rusher (Za’Darius Smith) and their top CB (Jaire Alexander). Both are top players at their positions, and their absences have had an impact on the Green Bay defense.

On run defense, the Packers have been middle-of-the-pack by traditional metrics. But according to advanced metrics, they have been near the bottom of the league. However, teams have had a hard time sticking to the run game against Green Bay. In other words, building an early lead and consistently stopping the Green Bay offense early is a good plan, but one that is hard to execute.

When trying to run, you want to avoid Kenny Clark. Because Clark is one of the best nose tackles in football and plays up and down the LOS, he can be tough to avoid. The Packers like to use a Bear front, playing their three-down linemen in tight between the tackles. This can clog the inside lanes but allows for openings on the edges if you can get a hat on the LBs. The Bears utilized more outside zone in Week 5 and could be leaning heavily on it again this week.

In coverage, they like to use variations of Cover 6 and Cover 4. Cover 4 is a combo scheme that employs both zone concepts and man concepts. This is a complex coverage to execute but is more adaptable to offensive sets and concepts. Moreover, Cover 6 combines aspects of the Cover 2 and the Cover 4 defenses. In other words, it splits the back end into quarter-quarter-half field assignments. Additionally, there are times they will rush five and play Cover 3 zone behind it. Three deep coverages, but only three flat coverages instead of the typical four. As a result, there may be opportunities to attack the flat.

Green Bay likes to change things up with multiple fronts. The Packers blitz more often than most, relying on their DBs to hold up in coverage. Considering the injury to Alexander, this could create opportunities. Especially when considering that their top pass rusher (Z. Smith) is also out.

Positional Breakdown

Packers positional ranks on defense.

Strengths: EDGE
Packers Position Ranks on Defense

The “Pos. Rank” uses multiple position-specific stats to generate a relative ranking for each player at their position. The percentile is simply a representation of their rank. For example, Kenny Clark Ranks fifth out of 83 qualifying iDL. This results in a percentile of 94% (MATH = 1 – (5/83)). In the right-most column, you can see the stats used to generate the ranking.

Packers Injury Report

Bears Scouting Report

Offensive Overview

Play-Caller: Bill Lazor / Matt Nagy

Personnel Groupings: RB-TE

  • 1-1 [3WR]: 65%
  • 1-2 [2WR]: 22%
  • 1-3 [1WR]: 5%

Third Down Conversion Rate: 32.8% (28th)

Red Zone TD Conversion Rate: 61.5% (17th)

Explosive Play / Pass / Run Rate: 4% (32nd) / 11% (15th) / 9% (22nd)

The Bears offense has an identity for the first time in a few years. In short, they aim to play smash-mouth football and have been conservative with a lead. The designed rush attempts have jumped from 36% of plays to 64%. Play action usage jumped from 20% to 34%. They have gotten Justin Fields outside the pocket more and are running more from under center.

“It feels good to have that [identity]. And now what we’ve got to do is as we go through this identity and figure out where we’re at, is now be able to grow with that, right? Because teams start to see who you are and they’re going to have counter ways to come back and counter you and counterattack you and I think that for us we’ve got to counter that. We always talk about you’ve got to keep them chasing the cat’s tail.”

– Bears Head Coach Matt Nagy

When Nagy was calling plays, the Bears used two-TE sets only 16% of the time. But with Lazor at the helm, that figure has shot up to 28%. This is partially due to their need to protect the OTs. The Bears OL lacks top-end talent and therefore requires additional help. They get this with the use of chipping and blocking TEs. They also showed a tendency to bring in an extra offensive lineman at times.

The past two weeks, the Bears have only thrown the ball on 40% of offensive snaps. They are only throwing when they need to. This is true for early downs especially, as they aim to pick up yards on the ground before going to the air. They have been effective in the run game the past two weeks and rank in the middle of the league in explosive run rates.

“When we get the run game going like that, it’s tough on opposing defenses. I was glad the offensive line was able to do that, plus the running backs and tight ends. They did a great job blocking up front, and our running backs were making plays.”

– Bears QB Justin Fields

Positional Breakdown

Bears Positional Ranks on Offense.

Strengths: Nothing notable
Bears Positional Ranks on Offense

The “Pos. Rank” uses multiple position-specific stats to generate a relative ranking for each player at their position. The percentile is simply a representation of their rank. For example, Darnell Mooney ranks 51st out of 106 qualifying WRs. This results in a percentile of 52% (MATH = 1 – (51/106)). In the right-most column, you can see the stats used to generate the ranking.

Offensive Line stats represent the entire unit, rather than any individual player. I believe that it is just too subjective of a stat to place statistical blame on individuals without knowing their assignments. 

Defensive Overview

DC: Sean Desai

Base: 3-4

Blitz %: 15.7% (29th)

Third Down Conversion Rate: 43.9% (23rd)

Red Zone TD Conversion Rate: 37.5% (3rd)

Sean Desai took over as Defensive Coordinator this season, and the returns for the first-year DC have been positive. Desai preaches three core values:

  1. Tackling
  2. Running to the football
  3. Taking the ball away

While tackling has remained an issue on the back end, the other two values have shown themselves in games. Every good defense excels in all three of these aspects, and bad ones struggle in at least one. The Bears still struggle in one of these areas (tackling), but there are reasons to be optimistic. There is one other notable emphasis for the defense under Desai.

“The biggest thing is knowing where the ball is. That’s the biggest thing. Having vision on the ball. If you can’t see the ball, you can’t take the ball away. Very simply, they need to know. They need to see the ball from wherever it is, the snap, to the quarterback-running back exchange, to the quarterback dropping back at the top of the pocket to releasing it and then we’ll have a chance.”

– Bears DC Sean Desai

Desai has schemed up defensive line stunts much more this year than the Bears have in the past. He incorporates much more deception in the pass rush plan. Desai has also implemented more “simulated pressures” in order to get home. That, combined with a revived Robert Quinn, has led to the most sacks in the NFL (18).

On the back end, the Bears primarily run coverages in variations of Cover 4 and Cover 6. Cover 4 is a combo scheme that employs both zone concepts and man concepts. This is a complex coverage to execute but is more adaptable to offensive sets and concepts. Cover 6 combines aspects of the Cover 2 and Cover 4 defenses. Essentially, it splits the back end into quarter-quarter-half field assignments.

The Bears have several question marks in the secondary. But Jaylon Johnson is certainly not one of them. The young CB was included on PFF’s first-quarter All-Pro team. He ranks near the top of the NFL in many stat categories.

Positional Breakdown

Bears Positional Ranks on Defense.

Strengths: iDL, EDGE, LB
Bears Positional Ranks on Defense

The “Pos. Rank” uses multiple position-specific stats to generate a relative ranking for each player at their position. The percentile is simply a representation of their rank. For example, Roquan Smith ranks sixth out of 68 qualifying LBs. This results in a percentile of 82% (MATH = 1 – (6/68)). In the right-most column, you can see the stats used to generate the ranking.

Bears Injury Report

Bears vs. Packers Summary

Lombardi and Halas, Sayers and Nitschke, Urlacher and Favre, Mack and Rodgers. This is Bears vs. Packers. While the Packers have made this rather one-sided in recent history, injuries have created some holes the Bears can exploit. With Green Bay missing multiple starters on the OL and their two best defensive players, the Bears have some places to attack. Rodgers is still a tough beat, and the roster still has good talent. The Bears’ front seven will need to dominate the matchup, and the ground game will need to get going. The Bears likely won’t be able to win if they get too conservative on offense. Staying on the attack against Rodgers is key.

Prediction: 

Packers – 26
Bears – 24

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