The Green Bay Packers will start a new era on Sunday when they open the 2023 NFL season against the Chicago Bears. The Packers are hoping to reverse their fate from the last two Week 1 contests where they not only lost but did not seem ready to play either physically or mentally. We will look at six key matchups that will determine the outcome of this game.

This will be the first start for Jordan Love since taking over for Aaron Rodgers as the starting quarterback.  Will he “own” the Bears like Rodgers did?

The Packers are coming off a disappointing 8-9 season and went 2-1 in the preseason. The Bears had the worst record in the NFL last season at 3-14. They finished the preseason 1-2.

The Packers lead the all-time series between these two teams 104-94-6 in the regular season. The series started in 1921 when the Bears were known as the Chicago Staleys. The Packers have won the last eight games in the series and 13 of the last 14. The two rivals split their two playoff meetings with the Packers winning the last one in the 2010 NFC Championship Game.

Here is a look at six key factors that will determine who wins Sunday’s game in Chicago:

Packers Key Matchups Number One: The Packers Must Contain the Bears Running Game

The Bears led the NFL in rushing yards gained per game last season and were dead last in passing yards. Chicago wasn’t consistent at running the ball, but they were able to make some big gains to improve their average and effectiveness.

Khalil Herbert takes over as the team’s number one running back. He gained 731 yards a year ago and averaged a healthy 5.7-yards per carry.

The speedy Herbert will be complimented by D’Onta Foreman who adds size to Herbert’s speed. Foreman gained 914 yards last year with the Carolina Panthers and averaged 4.5-yards per carry.

The Packers run defense has been a weakness of this team for years now. Two of the three starters along the defensive line have been replaced with T.J. Slaton and Devonte Wyatt now joining Kenny Clark in the starting lineup. Clark is moving from nose tackle to the perimeter with Slaton taking over in the middle.

The Packers are also counting on linebackers De’Vondre Campbell and Quay Walker to help clog up the running lanes.

The Packers are hoping to get more penetration and to be more disruptive at the line of scrimmage. They will need to contain the Bears running game and force Chicago to win the game through the air.

Key Matchups Number Two: Don’t Let Justin Fields Beat You with His Legs

Justin Fields is an elite running quarterback, but he is not a very accurate thrower. Last year, he gained 1,143 yards rushing and averaged 7.1-yards per carry. Fields is dangerous when he runs with the football and can break a long gain whenever he runs with the ball.

The Packers have struggled to defend running quarterbacks for a long time. Joe Barry should have either Walker or Campbell act as a spy and follow Fields wherever he goes.

Getting pressure on Fields is a worthy goal but it is more important to prevent Fields from picking up chunks of yards and key first downs when scrambling. Forcing Fields to win this game with his arm gives the Packers an advantage.

Packers Key Matchups Number Three: Jaire Alexander Must Contain DJ Moore

Fields is a young quarterback who is still learning as he begins his third NFL season. Last year, the Bears didn’t have many highly regarded receiving weapons. This year, however, the Bears added former Panthers first-round pick DJ Moore.

While the Bears passing offense was not good last season, the Packers still need to prevent Moore from having a big debut with his new team.

Jaire Alexander remains one of the elite coverage corners in the league. Last year in Week 1, Barry didn’t have Alexander cover Justin Jefferson and he torched the Packers, catching nine passes for 184 yards and two touchdowns.

Barry should match up Alexander on Moore at least half the time and especially in obvious passing situations. Moore may get a few catches, but the Packers need to prevent him from making any big plays that change the momentum of the game.

Key Matchups Number Four: Which Packers Wideouts Will Be Available?

The Packers lack experience at wide receiver to begin with, but injuries are now a factor leading up to this Sunday’s game. Both projected starters are nursing hamstring injuries.

Christian Watson didn’t practice Wednesday or Thursday. The Packers would miss his ability to stretch the field and to get open deep downfield.

Romeo Doubs missed practice Wednesday but was limited on Thursday. Missing both of their projected starters would make things much tougher for Love in his first game as the team’s starting quarterback.

Rookie Dontayvion Wicks is also dealing with a hamstring injury but was a full participant in practice on Thursday.

Malik Heath, Jayden Reed and Samori Toure will see more action if Watson or Doubs are unavailable or limited.

The Packers passing game is already dealing with a lack of experienced targets but having half the receivers on the active roster on the injury report can make this an even bigger issue.

The Packers need the passing game to be efficient. They also need to minimize mistakes and the lack of familiarity between the quarterback and his inexperienced receivers and tight ends.

Packers Key Matchups Number Five: Run the Football Effectively

The Packers have one of the best running back duos in the league in Aaron Jones and A.J. Dillon. In the past, Matt LaFleur has abandoned their running attack too quickly if they fall behind and that’s something they can’t do against the Bears.

Jones and Dillon compliment each other well with Jones being more of a speedy, outside threat and Dillon running best between the tackles.

The Bears ranked 31st in the NFL a year ago in average rushing yards allowed per game. The Packers need to take advantage of this weakness and run the ball frequently. If they’re successful, they will set up Love for more manageable second and third down situations.

Key Matchups Number Six: Take Advantage of the Bears Shaky Offensive Line

The Bears offensive line struggled at times last season and is currently dealing with injuries. Cody Whitehair is moving to guard; former Packer Lucas Patrick will get the start at center while rookie Darnell Wright will be the starting right tackle.

The Packers should be able to take advantage of the banged up and revamped Bears offensive line to put some pressure on Fields and disrupt the Chicago rushing attack.

Rashan Gary should play on Sunday although he’ll likely be on a play count and only be in the lineup on obvious passing downs. Preston Smith and Kingsley Enagbare will see a lot of action. Look for Barry to blitz more frequently than he did last season as well to take advantage of this matchup especially against the rookie, Wright.

If the Packers can control the line of scrimmage, it could set the defense up for a successful start to the season.


Week 1 is always the toughest to predict and this young Packers team doesn’t make it any easier. The speed and talent are there but how quickly will these young players adjust to the NFL and reach their potential?

From top to bottom, the Packers roster is deeper and more talented than the Bears. If Fields doesn’t run wild or suddenly becomes a great passer, the Packers should be able to win this game if they limit their mistakes.

Like any rivalry game, this will be close and intense, but the Packers find a way to get it done.


Packers 24, Bears 20



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