Bears vs. Packers — What to Watch 4
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The Packers might be vulnerable on the right side of their offensive line, with two backups expected to start — Jason Spriggs for Bryan Bulaga (knee, doubtful) at tackle and Justin McCray for Byron Bell (knee, IR) at guard.
That figures to create an opportunity for Bears outside linebacker Khalil Mack, who had a sack, a forced fumble, a fumble recovery and an interception return for a touchdown against the Packers in Week 1. Outside linebacker Leonard Floyd has been pretty effective from the left side in recent games, as well.
‘‘It’s almost like the whole defensive front is playing a little more confident with [Mack] in there,’’ Spriggs told Packers reporters last week. ‘‘I think he brings a level of confidence to everybody on the defense, and we just have to key on that and make hay when we get the chances.’’
A shoulder injury that cost him two games didn’t help, but quarterback Mitch Trubisky’s early-season progress has stalled recently. He has a 79.6 passer rating (six touchdowns, six interceptions) in his last four games.
After returning from the injury, Trubisky had a season-low 33.3 passer rating against the Rams. He completed 16 of 30 passes for 110 yards, with one touchdown and three interceptions.
‘‘I think that’s just making excuses, saying that I could be rusty,’’ Trubisky said. ‘‘Bottom line [is], I didn’t make the throws I needed to make. But [I] go to watch the film, learn from it, put it behind me and make the throws I know I can make.’’
Player to watch
While much of the focus was on Mack in Week 1 at Lambeau Field, the season opener was also the debut of rookie linebacker Roquan Smith, who missed most of training camp and the entire preseason after a contract holdout.
Smith had a sack of backup quarterback DeShone Kizer on his first NFL snap, but he played only eight snaps. He has come a long way since then and has a team-high 97 tackles, including 57 in his last six games. He also has four sacks and had his first interception last week against the Rams.
The Bears have plenty of motivation with a chance to clinch the division at home against the rival Packers. But after playing at a fever pitch to stymie the Rams’ high-scoring offense, the Bears’ defense has to avoid an emotional letdown.
Coach Matt Nagy said the Bears’ response against the Lions on Thanksgiving after an emotional Sunday night victory against the Vikings proved they can handle it.
‘‘That taught me who we are,’’ he said. ‘‘I’m not real concerned about where we’re at in that way.’’