Bears vs. Packers kicks off Sunday night. The Bears are currently 12.5-point road underdogs. Sunday night's weather predictions show temperatures in the mid 30’s with a 2% chance of rain and winds at 20 MPH. The Packers are coming off their bye week, while the Bears are coming off a home loss to the Cardinals. That was their sixth loss in the last seven games.
Bears vs Packers Betting Lines
In the above graphic, 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 Cover History
In the graph, the blue line represents the expected point differential based on the spread. For example, if the spread is CHI +7, the blue line will have a data point at -7, since the Bears are expected to lose by seven. The orange line represents the actual result. Therefore, any data point above the blue line means that the Bears covered the spread and any data point below the blue line means the Bears did not cover.
In Matt Nagy’s tenure as head coach of the Bears, he has compiled a record against the spread (ATS) of 28-34. As an underdog, Nagy’s teams are 14-19 ATS. On the road, his teams are 13-17 ATS. Combining those two factors, Nagy’s teams have a record of 8-10 ATS as a road dog. This represents a cover rate of 44%, versus league average cover rate of 57%.
“Good coaches win. Great coaches cover the spread.”
Since 2019, when Matt LaFleur became head coach, the Packers have compiled a record against the spread (ATS) of 32-16. As a favorite, they are 23-13 ATS. At home, they are 17-7 ATS. Combining those two factors, the Packers have a record of 16-7 ATS as a home favorite since 2019. This represents a cover rate of 64% versus league average cover rate of 43%.
Bears vs Packers Team Stats
The final ranking for each unit is the average of DVOA, EPA per Play (10% win probability filter), and success rate. DVOA is a metric developed by Football Outsiders that measures a team’s efficiency by comparing success on every single play to the league average based on situation and opponent. Meanwhile, EPA per Play is a stat that aims to measure the value of individual plays in terms of points using historical data for down, distance, and field position. Finally, success rate measures the percentage of plays that generate positive EPA on offense or a negative EPA on defense.
“They don’t like us, and we don’t like them.”
– Bears Head Coach Mike Ditka
By the numbers, the Packers are far superior to the Bears on offense. They boast a top 5 passing attack, and a top 10 rushing attack. Meanwhile, the Bears have the 29th ranked passing attack and the 19th ranked rushing attack.
Across the LOS, the Packers have the 19th ranked defense, while the Bears rank 21st. The Packers pass defense comes in at 13th in the NFL, while their run defense ranks 17th. Meanwhile, the Bears have the 23rd ranked passing defense and the 19th ranked rushing defense.
Packers Offensive Overview
Play-Caller: Matt LaFleur
Personnel Groupings: RB-TE [WR]
- 1-1 [3WR]: 59% (Pass Rate = 66%)
- 1-2 [2WR]: 29% (Pass Rate = 42%)
- 1-0 [4WR]: 6% (Pass Rate = 74%)
Play Action %: 26.4% (17th)
Screen %: 16% (2nd)
3rd Down Conversion Rate: 41.8% (11th)
Red Zone TD Conversion Rate: 55.3% (24th)
Explosive Play / Pass / Run Rate: 9% (23rd) / 10% (7th) / 7% (30th)
Score %: 41.3% (11th)
Turnover %: 6.6% (1st Lowest)
The Packers OL has been hurting badly for much of the season. 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 Bakhtiari is nearing a return, he may not be available Sunday.
“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 generally above average. They have struggled to generate explosive runs despite having capable RBs. The OL likely has played a factor here even though the run blocking is 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. But, the lack of true top end talent has limited their ability to generate explosive plays on the ground.
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 42% of the Packers’ targets and 35% of their receiving yards. In fact, Adams has 1,083 receiving yards on the season, while the next closest player only has 375 yards (Randall Cobb).
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.
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 2nd out of 83 qualifying WR’s. This results in a percentile of 98% (MATH = 1 - (2/83)). 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.
Packers Defensive Overview
DC: Joe Barry
Blitz %: 20.2% (29th)
3rd Down Conversion Rate: 43.7% (28th)
Red Zone TD Conversion Rate: 71.9% (31st)
Explosive Pass / Run Rate: 7% (5th) / 11% (11th)
Score %: 33.6% (9th)
Turnover %: 14.3% (8th Highest)
The Packers made a change at DC this offseason, bringing in Joe Barry to run the unit. 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. While the two players are nearing a return in the coming weeks, it is unclear whether they might be made available for Sunday. One would think that given the Packers playoff aspirations, that they would choose the safer route.
Against the run, the Packers have been middle-of-the-pack by most metrics. 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. This is partially due to the Packers ability to limit explosive plays. They play a conservative brand of defense, forcing you to beat them with smaller gains and avoiding big plays.
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.
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. Meanwhile, 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.
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, Rashan Gary ranks 7th out of 84 qualifying EDGE players. This results in a percentile of 92% (MATH = 1 - (7/84)). In the right most column, you can see the stats used to generate the ranking.
Bears vs Packers Injury Report
Both the Bears and Packers have multiple key starters on injured reserve. However, the primary difference here is in the injury report. The Bears have far more injuries than the Packers in general. David Bakhtiari is off of injured reserve, but unlikely to play by all accounts.
Bears vs Packers Summary
“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
Bears vs Packers is historic in so many ways. Unfortunately, it has not been much of a rivalry of late, and I don't expect that to change this weekend.