The NFL is back. The regular season gets underway on Thursday night with an exceptional divisional matchup. The Green Bay Packers will be in Chicago to take on the Bears. The two clubs had vastly different results last season, but they both are entering 2019 with their eyes firmly planted on securing a division crown.
The Bears were the surprise winners of the NFC North a season ago. The team made tremendous strides on both sides of the ball under the leadership of 1st year head coach Matt Nagy. The club would make a quick exit from the postseason by losing to the Philadelphia Eagles in the Wild Card round, but optimism is high that 2018 was merely the beginning of something special.
It was a different story for the Packers. While the team entered last season with high hopes, those plans didn’t come to fruition. The team failed to live up to expectations with the lowlight coming in a home loss to the Arizona Cardinals. Head coach Mike McCarthy was gone after the game. Joe Philbin took the gig on an interim basis, but the club would go on to finish the year under .500.
This game makes for a great way to begin the new season. Let’s take a look at this contest in full detail, starting with the current game lines.
Green Bay Packers vs. Chicago Bears, 8:20 PM EST, Thu. Sept.5, NBC
Betting odds provided by: Sportsbetting.ag
Green Bay vs. Chicago Pick:
These two squads met in the opening week of 2018 as well. Chicago took control of the game from the onset and roared out to a 20-0 lead. Aaron Rodgers went down to injury during the contest, but he would return to lead the way for a furious comeback. When the final whistle blew, the Packers escaped with a 24-23 victory on their home turf.
Green Bay would go on and enter the Week 7 bye with a record of 3-2-1, with the tie coming at home versus the Minnesota Vikings in Week 2. The Bears would dust themselves off after the loss and win three straight to head into the Week 5 bye with a record of 3-1.
|Green Bay||6-9-1||376||400||3-NFC North||NA|
|Chicago||12-4||421||283||1-NFC North||Lost Wild Card|
The week off didn’t do any good for the Packers. The team would lose five of its next six games, culminating with the embarrassing home loss to the Cardinals. After Philbin took over the rest of the way, the club would go 2-2 to finish up at 6-9-1.
Chicago lost its first two out of the bye, but the team caught fire from there and won nine of its final 10 games. The lone loss over that span was a 3-point road overtime defeat to the New York Giants. The final record stood at 12-4, which was good enough to win the NFC North.
The season came to a close in the Wild Card round when the team lost a heartbreaker to the Philadelphia Eagles by a score of 16-15. A missed game-winning field goal at the end of regulation only added to the misery.
The Packers moved quickly in the offseason and hired Matt LaFleur as head coach. He was most recently the offensive coordinator for the Tennessee Titans, and he held the same position with the Los Angeles Rams the previous year.
While typically quiet in free agency, the team took a different approach this year. The defense was a focus, with signings including LBs Preston Smith and Za’Darius Smith. That side of the ball was a focal point in the draft as well, with selections including DE Rashan Gary and S Adrian Amos.
The Bears lost defensive coordinator Vic Fangio in the offseason. He’s off to coach the Denver Broncos. Chicago hired former Indianapolis Cots head coach Chuck Pagano to fill the void. Jordan Howard is also gone as the team shipped him off to the Philadelphia Eagles.
There was some attrition to deal with during free agency, but the club would shore up the secondary as well. S Ha-Ha Clinton-Dix is among the newest members of the Bears. In the draft, the team nabbed RB David Montgomery and WR Riley Ridley, among others.
This is one of the most historic rivalries in the entire NFL. There have been 198 meetings in total. Green Bay holds a slight 97-95-6 advantage. In Week 1 of last year, the Packers won by a score of 24-23 as 7-point home favorites. The Bears took the rematch at home in Week 15 by a score of 24-17 as 6-point favorites.
Last season, the Packers were 6-9-1 against the spread and 8-8 on totals. For the Bears, the record was 12-5 ATS and 8-9 on totals. As road underdogs in 2018, Green Bay was 0-6 overall and 1-4-1 ATS. Chicago was 6-1 straight up as home favorites and 6-1 ATS as well. For Week 2, the Packers have a home date with the Vikings, while the Bears will be on the road to face the Broncos.
Chicago is a field goal favorite at home for this contest, which points to the game being a veritable toss-up. The Bears are expected to pick up right where they left off last year and once again be among the NFC’s best. There’s hope that Mitchell Trubisky and the offense will take bigger strides as well. The defense has lost Fangio’s leadership, but it remains loaded with talent and should be fine with Pagano.
As for the Packers, there are naturally questions about how LaFleur will do in the head gig. Rodgers enters off of a down campaign, but optimism is high that he’ll bounce back and put together a stellar season. The club made a number of moves to bolster the defense in the offseason, but that’s not getting anywhere near the press of the LaFleur-Rodgers dynamic.
The NFL betting sites seem to be on the money here. We’re expecting a close and competitive contest that comes down to the wire. In the end, we like Rodgers and company to do just enough to cover, and perhaps even steal one in the Windy City.