The Bears and Packers will kick off the NFL season on Thursday night football in a historic rivalry match. Typically, the Superbowl champion will host the following season opener, but with the NFL 100th anniversary, they picked one of the best rivals in football.
The Bears are coming off a season where they exceeded expectations, while the Packers fell short. Despite Aaron Rodgers being 16-5 all-time against the Bears, it is Chicago that is favored.
Green Bay Packers
The Packers are coming off a disappointing 6-9-1 season where they finished third in the division they were favored to win in the preseason. The story of last season was the turmoil between Rodgers and head coach Mike McCarthy, who was eventually let go after twelve seasons with the Packers.
New head coach Matt LaFleur will look to build a relationship with Rogers right off the bat to get things firing on all cylinders as fast as possible. This will be hard to do against the Bears stellar pass defense, but we all know Rogers has the talent if LaFleur can put the right game plan in place.
LeFleur is just another addition to the hires of young offensive-minded coaches in the NFL since the success of Rams head coach Sean McVay. The 39-year-old was McVay’s offensive coordinator with Los Angeles, and the Packers are hoping they can use his knowledge and Rogers talent to put them back on top of the NFC North.
After the demise of the McCarthy, Rodgers relationship, I believe we will learn a lot about Rogers character this season. If this relationship goes south as well it may be time to question Rogers coachability as a player.
On defense, the Packers had some personnel changes including the departure of Clay Mathews and defensive tackle Mike Daniels. They did, however, add former Bears pro bowl safety, Adrian Amos. Amos fills a gap left by former Packer HaHa Clinton-Dix. Green Bay is young but talented on defense. With the loss of some of their veterans, they will be relying heavily on the growth of their young players to keep them in games this year.
The Bears are in the exact opposite spot as they absolutely exceeded expectations, going 12-4 and eventually losing in the playoffs at home by just a missed field goal.
Chicago’s defense was the story of the season last year, after the huge addition of Khalil Mack at the beginning of the season, Chicago finished no. 1 in points allowed and no. 3 in yards allowed. The Bears pass rush is going to need to be at the top form to take on Rogers in his new system.
The Bears were 7-1 in Chicago last year, and the home team in NFL kickoff games has gone 14-3 all time. In this specific rivalry, the favored team has won 12 of the last 17. All these numbers favor the Bears in this matchup, but Aaron Rogers tends to throw a wrench into other team’s game plans.
A big difference for the Bears this season should be a more improved offense. This was a team that was kept in games with their defense, but we got to watch their offense grow week by week all season long. Mitch Trubisky who seemed like a liability at the beginning of the season, eventually made the trip to the pro bowl and even had a 350+ yard game with 6 touchdowns against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
What to expect
A lot of what happens in this game will depend on what LaFleur does on offense to combat what the Bears will bring at them. The Packers have plenty of talent and they will still get on the board. I expect a close game where Rogers gets a chance to win it at the end and falls short.
This should make for a great matchup to kick off the season. The Bears defense will be too much for the Packers to handle all game without making mistakes and the Bears will start the season off with a win.