The Green Bay Packers are heading on the road to start their 2023 regular season. They will be facing off with a familiar foe, taking on their NFC North rivals, the Chicago Bears. This is an important game for both teams as they look to put disappointing 2022 campaigns behind them for good.
The Packers had their first losing season under Matt LaFleur, going 8-9 after three straight 13-win campaigns. The bottom fell out for the Bears, who lost 10 straight games to end the season, finishing 3-14 and landing the No. 1 pick in the 2023 NFL Draft.
A victory in Week 1 would go a long way for both franchises looking to get off to a strong start. Who will come away with the win and get off to a 1-0 start? Here are three key matchups to pay attention to that will help determine who comes out ahead on Sunday afternoon.
3. Packers Offensive Line vs. Bears Front Seven
The Packers have one of the youngest rosters in the NFL. Offensively, they have near record-setting inexperience. However, in the trenches, the team has plenty of experience to rely upon.
For this offense to have any chance at succeeding, the offensive line is going to have to live up to expectations. If this unit can stay healthy, they have the talent and depth to be one of the top offensive lines in the NFL.
The Bears revamped their front seven this offseason, signing linebackers Tremaine Edmunds and T.J. Edwards to help shore up the run defense. Yannick Ngakoue provides a much-needed spark in the pass-rushing department, so this unit should be improved for Chicago.
But, the Packers have a clear advantage in the trenches. If they can exert their dominance, it will make things much easier for Jordan Love in his first start as the full-time starter.
2. D.J. Moore vs. Jaire Alexander
The Bears offense is going to look vastly different in 2023 than it did in 2022. Last season, their passing offense didn’t strike fear into anyone. Justin Fields was surrounded by the weakest group of pass catchers in the NFL, but that is no longer the case.
Wide receiver D.J. Moore is a bonafide No. 1 receiver, acquired from the Carolina Panthers in the trade package for the No. 1 overall pick. He joins Darnell Mooney and Chase Claypool in what is now a strength for the team.
The Packers are going to have their hands full trying to slow Moore down. Rasul Douglas knows how talented he is from when they played in Carolina together. It will be interesting to see how Joe Barry deploys his cornerback groups.
Will Jaire Alexander play shadow coverage against Moore, following him around the formation? Or will he stick to Alexander opposite Douglas with Keisean Nixon in the slot? Regardless of the game plan, expect Alexander and Moore to match up regularly.
1. Bears Rushing Offense vs. Packers Rushing Defense
The biggest weakness for the Packers during the 2022 season was their run defense. Despite winning both games against the Bears last season, Green Bay surrendered 335 rushing yards in those contests. That is something that has to change if they want to find more success in 2023.
The Bears rushing attack is going to be more dangerous now that teams won’t be able to stack the box against them regularly. Leaving Moore, Mooney and Claypool in too many one-on-one situations would be costly.
It will be interesting to see how different the game plan is for Green Bay against the run. Kenny Clark issued a warning earlier this week to Chicago about what is to come. Executing that game plan, slowing down Fields and company on the ground would go a long way to helping the Packers win.