No. 5: Yannick Ngakoue vs David Bakhtiari
The Bears defense was a failure on all fronts in 2022. But if there is one area to single out, it would be the team’s inability to generate consistent pressure. Chicago finished the year with 20 sacks. For reference, the San Francisco 49ers had 44.
Chicago was able to make up for it to an extent by finishing toward the middle of the pack in forced turnovers, but it wasn’t enough to stop them from being the worst defense in all of football by multiple metrics.
That is precisely why Yannick Ngakoue was brought in. He’s coming off a 9.5-sack season and has recorded eight or more sacks every year since joining the league. Ngakoue’s presence adds an established name to an otherwise unproven defensive line.
In his Bears debut, he will face former All-Pro David Bakhtiari. Although dwindling health has caused Bakhtiari’s status to slip, he’s still one of the premier tackles in the league and a leader for the Packers.
Saying that a particular quarterback isn’t as good under pressure is a tedious statement since everyone performs worse under pressure. But given Love’s inexperience, forcing him to get rid of the ball quickly could be especially valuable this week.
Ngakoue is playing for a multi-year contract he hopes to get after this year from the Bears or another team. Chicago needs to lean heavily on him this year, and revitalizing the Bears' defensive line would be enough to prove his worth.