Packers will look to ‘grind away’ at Bears’ tough defense

GREEN BAY – Matt LaFleur has a foolproof plan for success against Chicago’s top-ranked third-down defense.

“Stay out of third down,” the Packers head coach said with a laugh on Wednesday.

That would be ideal, but the Packers of course won’t be able to do that for four quarters Sunday night.

Inevitably some key third-down situations will present themselves between the Bears’ No. 1 unit in terms of defensive efficiency (33%) and the Packers’ No. 4 group on the offensive side (47.9%).

LaFleur believes the Bears’ success on third down stems in part from a “challenging” mentality, suggesting Chicago is less about tricks and disguises and more about matching up physically in certain spots.

“They’re not afraid to get up in your face and press you and play man coverage,” LaFleur said. “You’re going to have to win one-on-one battles.”

That goes for up front as well as on the perimeter, and how healthy the Bears will be remains up in the air.

Star defensive tackle Akiem Hicks injured his hamstring in the Bears’ last game, before their bye week, and did not practice Wednesday. Also, Pro Bowl safety Eddie Jackson is on the reserve/COVID-19 list, though he has a chance to be cleared by Sunday.

To quarterback Aaron Rodgers , the strength of the Bears’ defense in general – not just on third down – is the combination of the pass rush with “smart, intelligent, savvy players” in the…

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