Which of these NFC North rivals is the better team, and stands a better chance of winning it all?


Quarterbacks

Let’s start with the most important position in football, and the easiest tally to award here. The Packers line up the two time MVP and 2010 Super Bowl MVP Aaron Rodgers, who is driving for another ring in the second half of his career. Many would argue that Rodgers is past his peak in a way that elite counterparts Drew Brees and Tom Brady are not, as Rodgers game relies a bit more on deception and mobility, but Rodgers is still one of the greatest quarterbacks this league has ever seen. The main risk factor at this position is Rodgers’ backup Tim Boyle, who had a poor college career at UConn and Eastern Kentucky, throwing for 12 touchdowns and 26 interceptions.

Mitch Trubisky was billed as a number one guy, and has not lived up to expectations. The Bears had sent the 49ers multiple mid-round picks in their 2017 pick swap to reach for Trubisky, and picked Trubisky over Patrick Mahomes and Deshaun Watson. You can imagine there’s some buyer’s remorse, and a strong desire in the Bears organization to salvage this investment by keeping hopes high. But when your head coach is “giving you keys to the car” in year three as a second overall pick, you know you haven’t grabbed the keys on your own Trubisky will likely only miss one or two games with the recent left shoulder injury he sustained against the Vikings, and he’ll need to come back with improved play if he wants to avoid early calls for the dreaded “B” word. Chase Daniel is a better backup than Tim Boyle, but the Packers take an easy win at the quarterback position

Tally, Pack.

Skill Support

Jared Goff has Woods, Cooks, Kupp, and Gurley. Brady has Edelman, Josh Gordon, James White, and Sony Michel. Mahomes has Tyreek Hill and Sammy Watkins. Both the Bears and Packers will need skill position support if they want to get their offenses ready for the playoffs.

The Packers headline with Devante Adams, who was positioned to become one of the NFL’s top receivers this year. The long-armed Adams is deceptively quick for a man who was labeled as slow by scouts after running a 4.56 40 yard dash in the 2014 NFL combine. Young when drafted, Adams is only 26 years old and entering the prime of his career. The new father of a baby girl had a breakout game against the Eagles, totaling 180 yards on 10 catches before leaving the game with a turf toe injury that doesn’t appear to be serious. After Adams comes talented 6’4 receiver Marquez Valdes-Scantling, who has emerged as the Packers number two receiver over struggling Geronimo Allison.

The two-headed Packers backfield consists of Aaron Jones and Jamaal Williams. After Williams began taking a larger share of the workload Week 3, he was injured on a malicious helmet-to-helmet hit by Eagles’ Derek Barnett. Aaron Jones expects to be the guy in the near future, but this group has rather underperformed early in the season.

The Bears wide receiver group is rather weak, and that’s to be expected when your seventh overall pick flames out of the league in only four years. Trubisky and Chase Daniel expect to throw the back kto sure-handed veteran Allen Robinson and speedster Taylor Gabriel. On a top receiving corps, those guys would have a bigger name in front of them. In fact, on a great group like Rams neither Robinson nor Gabriel would get much playing time at all. Cordarelle Patterson is also a target, but plays a hybrid role.

The Bears have one of the league’s most interesting and diverse backfields, led by rookie David Montgomery, who has looked good-not-great thus far in 2019. Tarik Cohen is the curveball, and is one of the top checkdown and gadget play targets in the league. When you add the component of Cordarelle Patterson, who still runs like a gazelle, this backfield is dynamic with three completely different options.

Since the Bears receiving options are so limited, it’s hard to give them this one. Trubisky, for all of the blame put on him, needs more options outside of the Tarik Cohen checkdown. The Packers offense will be scary if Devante Adams gets rolling and the backfield situation smoothes itself out. Tally to the Pack.

Front Seven

For the Pack, free agent signings Za’Darius and Preston Smith, both SEC products with no other relation, have applied lots of pressure thus far, combining for 7.5 sacks over 4 games. They’re supported by 2019 first rounder Rashan Gary, who has not made much of an impact after being drafted out of the University of Michigan. Dean Lowry and Kenny Clark are solid gap pluggers, and have allowed the Smiths to thrive in this system. Both Lowry and Clark can expect to match or exceed their highest sack seasons if healthy. Blake Martinez is a wall in the middle of the defense, and is near the league lead in tackles.

On the Chicago side, Khalil Mack is their super star, and a wise one at that. In the locker room after a dominant game against Kirk Cousins and the Vikings, Mack dropped the line “a dog that poop fast don’t poop for long.” Mack would know, as he’s reached opposing quarterbacks 4.5 times this season, already forcing four fumbles on aggressive strip sacks. But the Bears front seven reads better on paper than any other team in the league. The Bears showed their depth in Week 4 after Akiem Hicks and Roquan Smith were ruled out, as Nick Kwiatkoski and Nick Williams combined for three sacks and shut down then-rushing leader Dalvin Cook. The Bears front seven also rolls out former Seminole star Eddie Goldman, game-as-cool-as-his-glasses Danny Trevathian, and Leonard Floyd — who takes the opposite edge to Mack. The main concern here is Roquan Smith, who is out with a personal issue with little additional information.

The Packers front seven has played well thus far, but it has a hard time comparing to the Bears, who have one of the league’s best players. The Bears front seven is a massive value add as they push towards the playoffs. Tally, Bears.

Ballhawks

The Packers secondary is improving but underwhelms a bit. Other than former first round pick Jaire Alexander, who has only one interception since being drafted in 2018, the Packers roll out Adrian Amos, Darnell Savage, and Kevin King. The Packers understand that they’re weak in this positional group, as they just drafted Savage out of Maryland with their 2019 first rounder and signed Amos to a large contract. Savage has looked good in his first season, with great coverage from the very start against the Bears. Adrian Amos is a higher end starting safety that just got paid $37 million over four years to move from Chicago to Green Bay.

HaHa Clinton-Dix also switched teams this offseason. The former Packer is now starting for the Bears at Strong Safety and has looked great this season despite getting paid significantly less than Adrian Amos — who was considered an upgrade for the Packers. Clinton-Dix starts opposite All-Pro Eddie Jackson, who is a special player and makes his teammates better.Not satisfied with just one All-Pro, the Bears match top opposing receivers with one of the best cornerbacks in the league, Kyle Fuller. Fuller is all over the field on Sundays, diving to break up passes and locking down opposing wideouts.

Not much argument for the Packers here. The tally goes to the Bears and their two All-Pro ballhawks.

Coaching

Matt LaFleur was billed as an offensive genius heading his tenure with the Packers, attending the Sean McVay school and transferring to the disappointing 25th ranked offense as the Titans offensive playcaller under Mike Vrabel. Proponents of LaFleur blamed Marcus Mariota and a weak receiving group for his struggles to get the Titans offense moving. When the Packers job opened up, LaFleur fans suggested that his spread offense could be simpler and more effective than Mike McCarthy’s more traditional scheme. But Rodgers has actually thrown the ball less this season than in 2018, and has struggled to consistently find open receivers in an offense with reads so simple that it risks predictability.

On defense, LaFleur retained DC Mike Pettine, who has seen success with a modern defense that focuses on keeping speed on the perimeter instead of clogging the box with bodies. The Packers defense has actually led the way in 2019, and Pettine has done a good job.

In a shocking turn of events for a young head coach, Matt Nagy has no relation to Sean McVay’s school of thought. The former Andy Reid offensive pupil deploys a variation of Reid’s West Coast offense, often incorporating RPO calls. Often utilizing gadget and trick plays along with RPO, Nagy straddles the line between innovative and gimmicky. But the Bears were a top 10 scoring offense in 2018, and hopefully can pick up the pace once Mitch Trubisky returns. On defense, the Bears staff hasn’t missed a beat after Vic Fangio’s departure, as former Colts coach Chuck Pagano has led the unit to a very strong start.

As long as Eddie Piniero can take care of Matt Nagy’s kicker yips , the Bears have superior coaching talent leading them to battle. Tally, Bears.

Momentum

After reaching the NFC Championship Game in both 2014 and 2016, the Packers have trended downwards and failed to live up to expectations, leading to the end of Mike McCarthy’s thirteen year tenure. In Aaron Rodgers remains a name that you would you could see hoisting the Lombardi every year, but circumstances have not allowed the team to take it to the next level. In the past, It was his collarbone in 2017, and his defense in 2018. This year, the Packers should arrive with increased momentum under a new head coach, but this is the first year where the Packers offense feels shaky, even under Rodgers. Although the team is more balanced than ever, it seems to lack upside as it did in past years.

This Bears defense has a truly elite feel the way that previous versions have not. Eddie Jackson and Kyle Fuller are entering their primes to hold down the secondary, Roquan Smith is a young star if he returns from his personal issues, and Khalil Mack speaks for himself. After a 12-4 finish in Matt Nagy’s first year, the Bears feel like a team on the rise. Matt Nagy is known as a players coach, and has inspired his team thus far in his tenure — leading to plenty of parties at Club Dub, where he’s known as the bouncer. .

Tally to the Bears for momentum in 2019.

Conclusion

For the first time in many years, the Green Bay Packers have a better defense than offense. But the Bears defensive unit is even better, and should be considered one of the best three defenses in the NFL. Chicago has a to truly be dominant this year on that side of the ball, and ascend to the status of their legendary 2006 defense. Matt Nagy is a great offensive mind, and if anyone can get Mitch Trubisky to break the speed limit, its Nagy. We expect a lot more parties at Club Dub this season, and a shot at celebrating with the Lombardi Trophy in February.

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