The Chicago Bears kick off the 2023 NFL season by hosting their long-time rival Green Bay Packers Sunday at Soldier Field, and both teams are looking drastically different than they have in year’s past.
Chicago now boasts a star wide receiver in DJ Moore, a scary running back group and tenacious linebacker unit. The Packers, on the other hand, have turned over the offense to former first-round pick Jordan Love, who now carries the fanbase’s expectation of being the next great Green Bay quarterback.
The two teams both have strengths and weaknesses that the opposing squad can exploit, so let’s discuss those matchups that will inevitably come into play on Sunday. Here are three key matchups to watch for in Week 1.
Bears defensive line vs. Packers offensive line
The Bears’ front four has its work cut out for them against a stout Packers offensive line. The defensive line will be crucial in stopping what will be a potent Green Bay rushing attack, as well as making quarterback Jordan Love uncomfortable in the pocket. Edge rusher Yannick Ngakoue will be key in getting in the face of Love, and the defensive tackle rotation of rookies Gervon Dexter and Zacch Pickens, as well as Justin Jones and Andrew Billings, will have the job of closing running lanes.
If the Packers offensive line dominates the Bears’ front four, Chicago’s offense may not be able to catch up on the scoreboard.
Bears WR DJ Moore vs. Packers' secondary
Chicago traded for star receiver DJ Moore in the offseason with the expectation that he will add another dimension to the Bears offense, giving quarterback Justin Fields the No. 1 option that he has never had. Moore will have a tough challenge in overcoming a Packers secondary that harbors Pro Bowl cornerback Jaire Alexander and safety Darnell Savage.
Moore will need to win at the point of attack in man coverage and find the hole in Green Bay’s zone to provide a window for Fields to zip a ball into, or else Fields may not have enough time to move to another option. Moore got the upper hand in his last battle with Alexander, hauling in six balls for 131 yards when Moore’s Panthers played the Packers in 2020.
The star pass catcher has the chance to demonstrate what elite receiving ability looks like to the fans at Soldier Field in Week 1.
Bears linebackers vs. Packers running backs
Chicago has struggled in recent years to contain the Packers’ running game, which further wounded the Bears after former Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers was throwing the ball up and down the field. Bears general manager Ryan Poles made it a priority to upgrade the linebacking unit, bringing in star defender Tremaine Edmunds, as well as T.J. Edwards, to give the unit a much-needed boost.
The revamped linebacker corps will attempt to stop the fearsome running back duo of Aaron Jones and A.J. Dillon, who seemingly take turns in who will trample the Chicago defense on their way to the end zone. Edmunds and Edwards, as well as last year’s surprise standout Jack Sanborn, have a chance to change the narrative this year.
The Packers’ chances of floundering in the pass game are a lot higher if they’re stonewalled on the ground.