The Chicago Bears earned their first win of the season with a thrilling 23-17 overtime victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers in Week Three. It’s clear that the Bears used a similar game-plan to the one we suggested for them. A strong defense, a healthy dose of Jordan Howard, and limiting turnovers played a big role in this success, and Bears fans are still basking in the excitement of the moment.
However, a Thursday night date with the Green Bay Packers looms large. What can the Bears do to defeat their storied rivals in such an important NFC North contest? Here are our Week Four Bears keys to victory.
Week Four Chicago Bears Keys to Victory
Keep Emphasizing the Running Game
This one seems pretty obvious after Howard (23 carries, 138 yards, two touchdowns) and Tarik Cohen (12 carries, 78 yards) combined for 35 carries and 216 rushing yards against the Steelers, but it needs to be re-stated. The ground game is where this team’s bread is buttered. Howard and Cohen are far and away the team’s best players on offense and have earned their distinctions as focal points.
However, the impetus for the Bears to rely on the running game in Week Three goes far deeper than that. Through three weeks, the Packers have only allowed an average of 183 passing yards per game, the seventh-best figure in the NFL. Meanwhile, they’ve allowed an average of 113.7 rushing yards per contest, the 12th-worst number in the league.
The Bears strength is their rushing attack, and that is where the Packers are most vulnerable. This one isn’t too hard to figure out. With that said, the running game needs to be utilized in order to accomplish the next part of the game-plan…
Slow and Steady
If the Bears want to have any shot of overcoming Aaron Rodgers and the Pack, they need to slow the pace of the game. Through three weeks the Bears offense has averaged 65.3 snaps per contest, while the Packers offense has averaged an even 76. To the naked eye, that might not seem like much of a disparity, but those 10.7 snaps could make all the difference in this game.
The Bears need to play within their limitations, maintain a slow pace, and keep Rodgers off the field as much as possible. If this game turns into an uptempo affair, there is no way Mike Glennon and his receivers can keep up with Rodgers, Jordy Nelson, Davante Adams, and a potentially-healthy Randall Cobb. Put simply, the Bears need to impose their brand of football on the Packers. If they don’t it could be a long day.
The Seattle Seahawks led the Packers 3-0 at halftime in Week One. The Packers came back and won. The Atlanta Falcons led the Packers 31-7 in the third quarter of Week Two. The Packers came roaring back and made a game of it. While they ultimately lost 34-24, it was still an impressive turnaround.
Then, in Week Three, the Cincinnati Bengals led the Packers 21-7 at halftime. The Packers pulled off an impressive comeback and won 27-24 in overtime. There’s clearly a trend forming here.
No lead is safe against Rodgers and this team. If the Bears are fortunate enough to build a lead early on, they can’t afford to take their foot off the gas in the second half. The Packers simply know how to close games. That’s what teams with elite quarterbacks do, and Rodgers might well be the best in the league.
The Packers are a better team than the Bears on paper. In order for Chicago to pick up a victory on Thursday night, a lot of things have to go right, especially since this game is being played at Lambeau Field, where the Packers have won all but two head-to-head meetings since 2007. It’s an important contest in a very competitive NFC North division. This one shouldn’t disappoint.