One of the oldest rivalries in the National Football League will be featured on Sunday Night Football this weekend. The Chicago Bears will travel north to Green Bay to take on their hated rivals, the Packers. Both of these teams finished with a below .500 record in 2017, but are both expected to be improved this season.
The Chicago Bears finished the 2018 preseason with a 2-3 record, but started to show signs of improvement. The Green Bay Packers went 2-2 during the preseason, but the starting offense appeared to be in midseason form when given the opportunity to play. Both the Bears and Packers will be trying to knock off the Minnesota Vikings in the NFC North this season. The Bears are a 7.5 point underdog in the season opener on Sunday night.
Nagy Makes Coaching Debut
Longtime assistant Matt Nagy will make his head coaching debut for the Bears on Sunday night. Nagy will bring his unique and creative offensive scheme to a Bears team that has plenty of playmakers on its roster. Running back Jordan Howard rushed for over 1,100 yards a season to go and will be a workhorse for the Bears this season. Quarterback Mitchell Trubisky is expected to take a big leap in his second year in the NFL.
Khalil Mack is expected to make his Bears debut on Sunday night and will provide an instant upgrade to the defense. Chicago finished in the top 10 in team defense a season ago, and their front seven is one of the best in the NFL. The Bears need to find a way to put pressure on Aaron Rodgers if they are going to slow down the Packers in this game.
Jimmy Graham Makes Green Bay Debut
Jimmy Graham will make his Packers debut in week 1, as he has been named the starting tight end. Graham is one of the best tight ends in NFL history and will quickly become the number one target of Aaron Rodgers. Rodgers missed nine games last season with a broken collarbone but is fully healthy to begin 2018. He has dominated the Bears during his Packers career, losing just four games out of the 19 matchups.
The Green Bay Packers will be unveiling a new look defense on Sunday night in hopes of vastly improving on that side of the ball. The Packers gave up a whopping 24.0 points per game last season which was one of the biggest reasons that they missed the playoffs. New defensive coordinator Mike Pettine has had success in his most recent stops and hopes that his knowledge and confidence can rub off on the Packers.
Packers Win a Close Game
The Green Bay Packers have dominated the Bears in recent seasons, but the tide might be turning a bit. The Packers still have Aaron Rodgers leading them, but their offense isn’t as talented or explosive in recent years. Look for the Bears defense to put pressure on Rodgers all night in this game.
The Bears need to find some offensive consistency to really take the next step as a franchise. Chicago has a roster that is loaded with young talent, but they now must prove they can beat their rivals. The Bears won’t win on Sunday night, but they’ll keep the game close and open some eyes in doing so. Bet the Chicago Bears +7.5 in this game.