In the second installment of the Green Bay Packers key 2020 matchup series, we will look at the individual battle between David Bakhtiari and Khalil Mack. The Packers don’t see the Chicago Bears until the last half of the 2020 season. The first contest will be under the lights on November 29th and the second contest will finish out the regular season on January 3rd. Like all division games, there is a lot of the line in these hard-fought wars. Many times a victory or defeat comes down to one on one matchups. In this case, the Bakhtiari vs Mack matchup will be of the utmost importance. Especially since this head-to-head pairs two of the best at their respected positions locking horns.
Bakhtiari is entering his eighth season in the NFL and all in Green Bay. He is regarded as one of the top left tackles in the game. Arguably, Bakhtiari’s pass-protection technique is the best of the best and has been for some time. While he isn’t as strong in the run game he still gets the job done and isn’t a liability. Bakhtiari wins with elite quickness and technique. He mirrors off opponents as good as any tackle in the league. His first step is a thing of wonder and ofter looks like he is beating the snap. This first step has him set and ready for his counterpart many times before they even move.
In the run game, Bakhtiari is good at getting into the defender’s body and keeping his feet chopping. Again, a technician through and through. Some nagging injuries last year held Bak back just a little from his normal dominance. He had a rough game against the Lions and Trey Flowers but also put on a clinic in other games, most notably against the Bears.
Mack is another player that is one of the best at his position as well as on defense overall. He strikes fear in opponents and keeps offensive minds up at night. Since coming into the league in 2014, the former Defensive Player of the Year has 61.5 sacks with 20 forced fumbles.
Mack has played in both odd and even fronts and usually works coming off the edge. The Bears are comfortable moving him from side to side and exploiting matchups. He can produce pressure in several different ways. Mack is a gifted athlete that can beat opponents with sheer speed and explosiveness. He also can use is bullish strength and drive right through would-be blockers.
Maybe even more impressive is his strong and violent hands. He uses them to shock lineman and also strip the ball any chance he gets. His field awareness to find the ball is impressive. Offenses often look help their Tackles any way they can because Mack is a handful single duty. Like Bakhtiari, Mack had a little bit of a down season in 2019 numbers-wise, but he still tilts the field and is one of a handful of players that can take over games at any time.
These two titans should see a fair share of each other. Green Bay has added a new Right Tackle in Ricky Wagner. Furthermore, The Bears have moved on from Leonard Floyd and added pash rusher, Robert Quinn. Mack will move around during the game to find favorable matchups but meeting Bakhtiari is inevitable. Last year Bakhtiari won the battles in both games. He controlled Mack for the most part and was able to keep Rodgers safe. Green Bay also used some quick passing to keep Mack at bay and the zone scheme kept Mack out of most running plays. The only time where Mack produced a pressure, was when he was inexplicably unblocked for one play. Being division rivals I expect to see both players in the prime for both 2020 games. The Packers and the Bears will try to find ways to help their respective players win their individual matchups.
Bakhtiari Wins if:
He plays his style and can beat Mack from the jump. If Bakhtiari can get set quickly in pass protection and use the proper technique he should give Aaron Rodgers enough time. In the run game, he needs to attack Mack and keep his feet moving until the whistle. Any time when two of the best meet up they will both get their wins at times. A big factor is how both teams scheme to give their player the edge. For Bak and the Pack, they need to win on 1st down and then use a quick-hitting pass attack to get the ball out of Rodgers’ hand. If Green Bay can build an early lead and not be forced into passing the ball as often, then Mack can be forced to play the run much more often.
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Mack Wins if:
He can get his strong hands into Bakhtiari’s’ body and put him on roller skates. When Mack gets a player out of position he has won and bad things are going to happen. Bakhtiari has shown he can struggle when a player gets hands on him and bull him back. Mack is a player that can do this. Also like the Packers, the Bears plan and play with dictate how Mack does. If the Bears can force Green Bay into 2nd and 3rd and longs, Rodgers has been known to hang onto the ball long at times. This bodes well for a shark-like Mack.
Who has the edge?
This one could go either way and is a toss-up. Both players have shown they can shut down or dominate anyone is this league. Recent history shows that Bakhtiari won the fights last season but that means little in 2020. A big factor will be health since these teams don’t play until later in the season. The fresher and healthier man could get a slight edge to win this battle. Going out on a limb I will take Bakhtiari here. He has the tools to neutralize Mack and the Packers will try to get the ball out quit to take him out of them as much as possible.
Thank you for reading the Bakhtiari vs Mack installment of the 2020 Key Matchup series. Be sure to stay connected to Full Press Coverage for more great NFL content.