Bears

Bears-Packers: What to Watch 4

KEY MATCHUP

Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers has dominated the Bears since he became the starter in 2008, but he’s never better than when he’s at Lambeau Field. In his last seven games at home against the Bears, Rodgers has thrown 20 touchdown passes and only two interceptions for a 113.9 passer rating.

The Bears counter with an intriguing twist — the likely addition of All-Pro outside linebacker Khalil Mack, acquired in a stunning trade with the Raiders on Sept. 1, and rookie inside linebacker Roquan Smith, the eighth overall pick of the draft.

Mack has not played in a game since Dec. 31 with the Raiders. Smith has not played in a game since Jan. 8 for Georgia against Alabama in the BCS Championship Game. Both are expected to play Sunday, though their snap counts are a mystery and likely dependent on how they respond to their first action since last season.

TRENDING

Rodgers is 16-4 in games he has started and finished against the Bears in his career, including 8-1 at home.

Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers (12) celebrates a touchdown pass against the Bears in a 35-14 victory at Lambeau Field on Sept. 28. Rodgers has thrown 42 touchdown passes and nine interceptions in 19 regular-season games against the Bears. | Matt Ludtke/AP photo.

But the Bears are buoyed by the addition of Mack and hopeful, if not confident, he’ll level the playing field against the indomitable Rodgers.

“I think it’s a lot different this year. I’ll leave it at that,” linebacker Sam Acho said.

PLAYER TO WATCH

Besides Mack and Smith, rookie wide receiver Anthony Miller also will be making his Bears debut. The second-round draft pick from Memphis was a big hit in training camp and the preseason, though he caught just four passes for 32 yards in 48 preseason snaps.

He clearly is not intimidated by the moment.

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“I’m gonna dive right in,” Miller said. “I think about making big plays, and not just myself, but my teammates. I know we’re all gonna eat in this offense, and I just can’t wait to see everybody’s faces when we’re doing the things we talked about.”

The Bears hope to be a surprise team, but nobody has expressed it quite like the excitable rookie.

“I think there’s a lot of people sleeping on us right now,” Miller said. “We’re that new team. We’ve got a couple of new guys, but the history of this team hasn’t been what we wanted it to be, so we’re about to rewrite it. This is the beginning of a new era in Chicago.”

X-FACTOR

Bears coach Matt Nagy never has been a head coach at any level before, but he comes from a program under Andy Reid that is known for its preparedness. Nagy has been confident and in control so far. Facing the Packers at Lambeau will be a revealing first test.