We have a very similar situation in this game to the one that we saw in the Jacksonville/Tennessee preview whereby one team in this case the Packers face a win and in the playoffs situation whilst the Bears are playing the spoiler role to a hated divisional rival.
There’s no love lost between these two franchises or the fans and the Bears QB Justin Fields stirred the pot this week with some comments about Green Bay which won’t have gone down well in Titletown.
The Bears despite a late season flourish that has seen them win four of their last five games including beating the Lions and Falcons last week face a Green Bay team that not only has found their own form of late (won five of last seven) but they have failed to beat since 2018. If the Packers do win this would be the 10th straight time that they have beaten the Bears, having already defeated them back in Week 1 in Chicago 38-20.
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The situation for the Packers this week is simple win and you’re in the playoffs. They would be either the NFC #6 or #7 seed. Whilst the Bears have been in good form it should be noted that they are still capable of blowing big leads having done so twice of late in the 4th quarter. For the Bears it’s all about the ability to play the spoiler role this week and it has to be said that their defence is playing a lot better than when the teams first met this season holding opponents to fewer than 20 points in five straight games.
As much as this is a critical game for the Packers so it is for the Bears and their future especially with regard to what they do with their current QB Justin Fields. Since they own the #1 pick in the upcoming draft do they stick with Fields or turn to one of the top available QBs in the draft? Fields threw for 268 yards with a touchdown pass and a rushing TD against the Falcons in what might have been his final home game with the Bears. The Bears fans appear to want Fields and a big game here might convince the Chicago coaching staff and front office stay with their current quarterback rather than start afresh. So there is plenty at stake for both sides in this clash at the iconic Lambeau Field.
The Bears offence is a condensed one with the main points of attack coming via Fields who is very much the modern dual threat QB, WR DJ Moore and their run game which is usually a two or three man committee. Fields went 24 of 37 for 216 yards with one TD and one INT, and he also rushed for 59 yards on nine carries in the first game between these two sides and is now 0-5 versus the Packers. Green Bay have been fairly passive on putting pressure on Fields overall possibly because of the threat that he poses with his legs and a lot of what the Bears do on offence is based around establishing the running game. Fields dual threat gives them ample opportunity to do this and his rushing yards line of +55.5 (10-11) with Star Sports looks one that he’s capable of beating given the matchup as Green Bay have had trouble stopping the run this year.
Chicago stuck with a two-back approach last week. The Packers sit back in a lot of zone coverage and have been gashed on the ground again this year, making it likely that the Bears can move the ball adequately without stretching themselves too much. Khalil Herbert led the backfield with 37 snaps (50%) and 20 touches for 129 yards and a touchdown. He rushed 18 times for 124 yards and a score after rushing 20 times for 112 yards and a touchdown in Week 16. Herbert has once again been a big-play back when the Bears have given him opportunities. Herbert has rushed for a touchdown as well as going over the century mark in each of his past two games. He has a decent chance of continuing that streak against Green Bay’s vulnerable run defence and the 11-10 to do with Star Sports looks good value.
The Fields-to- DJ Moore connection has been the major way that the Bears have moved the ball through the air and Moore rebounded in a big way on Sunday, catching 9-of-13 targets for 159 yards and a touchdown. Moore is enjoying his best NFL season, averaging a career-high 81.3 receiving yards per game, scoring a career-high nine touchdowns, and posting a career-high 70.8% catch rate. He needs two catches on Sunday to set a new career high having had a personal-best 93 catches for Carolina in 2021. Moore needs a big game against Green Bay, a defence he only had 2 catches for 25 yards against in Week 1 when the Bears still looked offensively clueless in the passing game.
Things have improved, Fields has improved a bit, and Moore is a dangerous customer if he is not covered properly. The Packers have been allowing a lot of plays to opposing passing games this year, and Moore should get the volume this time around to go over 63.5 yards, something he has done 7 times this season.
As much as the Bears are unsure about their future with Fields the Packers have moved on from Aaron Rodgers to Jordan Love and look to have found a quarterback to take them forward for the next few years. In his last seven games Love has gone 68.4% completions, 7.4 YPA, 16 TDs, 1 INT, only 10 sacks taken, 2 rush TDs. The 7-1 with Star Sports on Love scoring another TD looks a dart that is worth throwing.
Love has thrown multiple touchdown passes in seven of his past eight games. He is now third in the NFL with 30 touchdown passes and it won’t be a surprise to see Love have a big game here and he has extra motivation this week if the Packers win and make the playoffs, he’ll earn a $500k bonus. Love would then be eligible to earn an additional $500k for each playoff win. This isn’t an easy matchup as the Bears pass defence is much better than the one Love faced in the season opener. Love is available at 12-1 in the Star Sports Specials Market “Most Passing Yards on Sunday” but it would be Geno Smith (Seattle) and Baker Mayfield (Tampa Bay) at 17-2 and 22-1 respectively who would be of interest in that market.
Who Love will have to throw to for the Packers is open to debate as a large part of their young receiving corps has been injured and featured on the injury report this week. That has not hampered them in scoring points though, after scoring more than 20 points only twice in their first nine games, the Packers have scored at least 20 points in seven straight games while averaging 26.7 points during that stretch. For comparison’s sake, there are only six teams in the NFL averaging more than 26.7 points per game this season. If the Packers can get WR’s Jayden Reed and Christian Watson on the field on Sunday that will give the passing offence a major boost especially as the Bears could be without one of their main CBs Jaylon Johnson who has been playing at a very high level.
A lot of the offensive focus will therefore fall on RB Aaron Jones the most experienced player on the Packers offence who has returned from injury looking better than ever although he doesn’t get an easy matchup against a Bears run defence that is allowing the fewest rushing yards per game, 84.0. Jones is healthy now though and could do something that no Packers player has ever done rush for 120 or more yards in three straight games.
After Green Bay had not had a 100-yard rusher all season, Jones went for 127 against Carolina and 120 against the Vikings in his first two games back from a knee injury. Jones has nine runs of 10 or more yards on his 41 rushes the past two weeks after having two runs of 10 or more yards on his first 79 rushes this season. Where the Packers need to get Jones more involved is in the passing game he’s not been that active as a pass catcher these past two weeks, but if you think back to the Week 1 game between these two he had two catches for 86 yards and a touchdown.
Before summing up the game there are two other Star Sports Specials that are worth mentioning – the first being the “Bankers” which is boosted to 11-8 (from 5-4) for this trio all to win, Buccaneers, Eagles and Cowboys. While there are seven games in the 9.25pm window and the 9-4 on all the teams to score a TD is a wager that appeals as one that could well provide a return with some entertaining games in that slot.
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This isn’t an easy game to call and despite the Packers having a hold over the Bears in recent years the pressure is all on them to get the win at home whilst the Bears play the party pooper role and both teams after shaky starts to the season are now playing well. If the Bears can open up a lead the pressure on a young Packers team will intensify so keeping it close or getting in front early will be the key for Green Bay as that may force the Bears and Fields away from their more comfortable run-based offence. The lean is for the Packers to just get home but not without a scare or two along the way.
BACK Over 44 match points 2pts at 5/6 (⭐
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BACK Justin Fields over +55.5 rushing yards 1pt at 10/11 (⭐
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BACK DJ Moore +63.5 receiving yards 1pt at 10/11 (⭐
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BACK Aaron Jones to score a TD 2pts at 10/11 (⭐
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PROFIT/LOSS (JAN 2024): PROFT -1.00 points