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4 things to watch in Bears-Packers game

Bears linebacker Roquan Smith
Bears linebacker Roquan Smith

The Bears will look to improve to 2-0 Sunday night against the rival Packers. Here are four storylines to monitor in the NFC North clash at Lambeau Field:

(1) How will the Bears defense fare against longtime nemesis Aaron Rodgers?

The four-time NFL MVP has dominated the Bears for more than a decade, winning 20 of the last 22 games he's started and finished against them. Rodgers has passed for 40 touchdowns with just two interceptions in his last 15 games versus the Bears, including 16 TDs with no picks in the last six contests, all Green Bay wins.

"You're facing one of the best in history," said Bears defensive coordinator Alan Williams. "So when you're facing a guy like that, that's a guy that has a ton of experience. You're not going to trick him, you're not going to fool him, he's super accurate, can throw from different angles. [He's] one of the best 'B' gap escape guys in football. You just have to play a complete football game."

In a 23-7 season-opening road loss to the Vikings, Rodgers was limited to 195 yards and threw a rare interception in his first game without star receiver Davante Adams, who was traded to the Raiders during the offseason. While some reporters think that performance may be cause for concern, Williams warned Bears players this week: 'Don't drink the Kool Aid of what the media is trying to sell that there's gloom and doom in Green Bay. Don't fall into that trap.'"

Williams knows what transpired last season. After Rodgers threw two interceptions in a 38-3 season-opening loss in New Orleans, he led the Packers to seven straight wins, passing for 17 touchdowns with only one interception.

(2) Will Justin Fields and the Bears offense pick up where they left off in the second half of last Sunday's 19-10 season-opening win over the 49ers?

After failing to advance beyond their own 35 on their first five possessions of the season, the Bears offense opened the second half with three straight touchdown drives, turning a 10-0 deficit into a 19-10 lead over the 49ers.

Fields sparked the comeback by ad-libbing his way to a 51-yard touchdown pass to Dante Pettis. The second-year quarterback escaped pressure in the pocket, rolled to his left and found a wide-open Pettis on the other side of the field. Fields' passer rating was 2.8 in the first half and 145.8 in the second half.

The Bears will look to carry that momentum into Sunday night's game against a Packers defense that allowed Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins to complete 23 of 32 passes for 277 yards with two TDs and a 118.9 passer rating last weekend.

"I think we know that that's not the product that they wanted to put on the field or put on tape," Fields said. "We know this week they're going to come with something to prove because they didn't have the game they wanted to have last week. We're prepared for that. They're probably not going to make as many mistakes as they did last week, so we're just going to have to come out with a fast start and just put points on the board."

(3) Will the Bears defense be able to limit the Packers running game?

Green Bay boasts one of the NFL's top backfield tandems in running backs A.J. Dillon (187 carries for 803 yards and 5 TDs) and Aaron Jones (171-799-4), who combined to rush for 1,602 yards and nine touchdowns last season. The two are also threats in the passing game; last year Jones had 52 receptions for 391 yards and 6 TDs, while Dillon caught 34 passes for 313 yards and two TDs.

"Those guys are good players, they really are," said Bears coach Matt Eberflus. "They both have great contact balance. They both have great cut ability. They have vision. They both have shown as of late to be great receivers out of the backfield, catching the ball out of the backfield. And they had, what, 11 targets last week? And they were talking about upping those targets. So those guys are dynamic players, and it's a 1-2 punch because they have different, varying skillsets."

"Two outstanding running backs," Williams added. "We call them 'thickians;' that means they have thick lower bodies. They can move the pile. Good jump cuts. They have great vision. They can catch the football. They protect well. So two very complete backs. Two backs that can change the ballgame. Two backs that can move the sticks. So we're going to have our hands full in terms of where that's concerned. We're going to have to bring extra guys to make sure we stop those two. We need six, seven, eight guys to take care of those two guys."

(4) Will the Bears be able to move the ball on the ground?

A productive running game Sunday night no doubt would open up the air attack and keep the Bears out of predictable passing situations. More is needed from running backs Khalil Herbert (9 carries for 45 yards) and David Montgomery (11-28), who were held to a combined 71 yards on 26 carries by the 49ers, a 2.7-yard average.

The Vikings compiled 126 yards on the ground and averaged 4.5 yards per carry in their Week 1 win over the Packers, with running back Dalvin Cook generating 90 yards on 20 attempts.

Green Bay's 3-4 defense features nose tackle Kenny Clark, outside linebackers Rashan Gary and Preston Smith, inside linebacker De'Vondre Campbell, cornerback Jaire Alexander and safety Adrian Amos.

"They have great players," Fields said. "They have a great front. They have a great secondary. They have great linebackers too. We're just going to have to get the run game going and then everything plays off of that."

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