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Fields’ fourth start will come against Aaron Rodgers, and he’ll face Tom Brady in his fifth.
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Bears QB Justin Fields says rivalry with Packers isn’t about him and Aaron Rodgers. But it is.

The Bears’ defense has handled Rodgers reasonably well at times in the last three seasons and still lost. At some point, Fields must help them solve that problem, and Sunday is his first chance to show he’s capable of that.

The Bears drafted quarterback Justin Fields to be their answer to Packers star Aaron Rodgers. And while the real rivalry ultimately might be between Fields and Packers quarterback-in-waiting Jordan Love, Rodgers is still at the top of his game at 37, and there’s no telling how long he’ll stay there.

At some point, it’s on Fields to bury him. That seems like an overwhelming task at this stage, when he’s only three starts into his career and has yet to throw more than 20 passes in a game, but the Bears urgently are trying to punch back against an opponent that almost always flattens them.

While Rodgers has incredible numbers against the Bears in his career, he hasn’t always needed them — especially lately.

The Bears have averaged only 17.3 points against the Packers under coach Matt Nagy, and Rodgers swept them in 2019 despite completing only 54% of his passes and registering an 84.5 passer rating in those games. He has yet to throw for 300 yards against this defensive core and has emerged victorious with point totals of 24, 21 and 10.

‘‘Chicago has always prided themselves on stout defenses, and in the 27 games I’ve played against them, you know what kind of day you’re going to be in for,’’ Rodgers said this week. ‘‘It’s always been a good test for us. The Bears have had a top-five defense, I don’t know, seems like every time we play them.’’

So the Bears’ problem isn’t stopping Rodgers; it’s keeping up with him. Enter Fields.

It’s unrealistic to expect him to turn the tide in only his fourth start, but he is a new threat to the Packers. There isn’t a huge library of film on Fields, and this stage of his career is unpredictable. He could break through for an offensive eruption at any time in a moment that gets everyone in even more of a frenzy about his future. Maybe it’ll be Sunday.

See how easy it is to talk yourself into it?

Seriously, however, he must put up a better fight than his predecessors. Mitch Trubisky went 1-6 against the Packers. Before him, it was Jay Cutler (2-12) and Erik Kramer (0-5) with an occasional Brian Hoyer or Matt Barkley sprinkled in for variety’s sake.

That history is as hilarious to Rodgers as it is painful to Bears fans. As part of the shtick with the Packers’ beat writers, he was asked whether he could name all the Bears quarterbacks he has faced.

‘‘Yeah, I could come close, probably: Jay Cutler, Kyle Orton, Rex Grossman, Mitch — ah, that’s about it,’’ he said. ‘‘I’m giving up. I’ve got a meeting to go to.’’

During the Packers’ run with Brett Favre from 1992 through 2007 and Rodgers from 2008 to now, the Bears have started 19 quarterbacks. They’ve combined to go 15-44. The Bears spent 70 years building a massive all-time series lead and now sit below .500 at 95-101-6 against their archrival.

They’ve had six coaches since firing Mike Ditka after the 1992 season, and the only one who came close to .500 against the Packers was Lovie Smith at 8-10. Nagy is 1-5, matching John Fox. The merry-go-round has created a Bears tradition that Rodgers pointed out this week.

‘‘The main focus for so many of these coaches’ press conferences in Chicago is beating the Packers,’’ he said. ‘‘We’ve had the upper hand for the last stretch with Favre and I.’’

He’s being gentle by referring to three decades as a ‘‘stretch.’’

There’s an offshoot of that tradition with everyone who comes through the turnstile at quarterback, too. They each get asked to pour out their admiration for Rodgers. The recurring question of, ‘‘What do you like most about his game?’’ carries the implication that the interviewee is his inferior.

The Bears are hoping Fields eventually reaches a height that makes that question sound silly, but he played along Wednesday in advance of their first meeting.

‘‘I just like how he’s always in rhythm,’’ Fields said. ‘‘That’s a piece of his game that I try to emulate.’’

Fields steered the conversation away from the notion that he and Rodgers are going head-to-head, emphasizing that it’s really a battle between Rodgers and the Bears’ defense. Just as he never viewed it as him going against Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence when they faced off in the College Football Playoff, Fields is resistant to this game being cast as him against Rodgers.

‘‘My job is to win,’’ he said. ‘‘And my job isn’t to be better than any quarterback. As long as we win, I’m doing my job the right way.’’

While he’s correct in a literal sense that he and Rodgers won’t be on the field at the same time, that doesn’t tell the whole story. The Bears’ defense has handled Rodgers a few times and still lost. That’s where this does become a Rodgers-Fields matchup.

Keeping pace with Rodgers is no less of a concern now than it was in recent history. Even with the progress they’ve made the last two weeks, the Bears are still 30th in the NFL in scoring at 16.8 points a game. And the headway they’ve made has come mainly from the running game, which will be difficult to stay committed to if Rodgers races to an early lead.

Inevitably, Fields one day must be the Bears’ solution to the Rodgers problem. By no fault of his, they already have wasted a ton of time and piled up a mountain of losses with quarterbacks who weren’t up to it. They need Fields to meet the challenge sooner than later, and Sunday is his first shot to prove it’s possible.

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