Chicago (0-0) at Green Bay (0-0)
When: Sunday, September 9th 2018
Where: Lambeau Field,
Green Bay, Wisconsin
Time: 8:20 ET | TV: NBC
Opening Odds: Packers -8/47.5
Its not often that the Green Bay Packers and Chicago Bears both finish with sub-.500 records, but that’s exactly what happened in 2017. One of the best rivalries in sports will get NBC’s Sunday Night Football started with a Week 1 clash as Chicago and Green Bay try and get an upper hand in the NFC North race. The Bears have finished last in the division four consecutive seasons and have just eight combined victories over the last two, but have reason to be optimistic under first-year coach Matt Nagy. Chicago didn’t do a whole lot in the offseason to improve the roster, but made a big splash just a week ago with a blockbuster trade with Oakland, landing All-Pro defensive end Khalil Mack just in time for the season opener. Mack now becomes the richest defensive player ever, receiving $141 million over six years. Speaking of big contracts, Green Bay’s future Hall-of-Famer Aaron Rodgers signed a four-year, $134 million contract extension and looks to help his team bounce-back from a 7-9 season. Rodgers missed nine games due to a broken collarbone and the Packers could never recover, proving how valuable he is. Rodgers has 14 touchdown passes and one interception in his last four home starts versus Chicago. Green Bay has won four straight against the Bears and leads the all-time series 95-93-6.
Chicago is banking on Mack to lead this defense, because they gave up a pair of first-round draft picks as part of the package to bring in the 2016 NFL Defensive Player of the Year. Mack has recorded double-digit sacks in each of the past three seasons – 36.5 total in that span. The Bears also used a first-round draft pick (No. 8 overall) to select linebacker Roquan Smith out of Georgia to further bolster a defense that ranked No. 7 against the pass with an average of 211.0 yards in 2017. Quarterback Mitchell Trubisky enters his second season in the NFL and hopes to improve on his 2,193-yard, seven-touchdown season. Chicago gave him some new receivers in Allen Robinson (Jacksonville) and Taylor Gabriel (Atlanta) along with tight end Trey Burton (Philadelphia). The underrated Jordan Howard has rushed for at least 1,100 yards in each of his first two seasons in the league, while Tarik Cohen caught 53 passes out of the backfield in 2017.
Before an injury-shortened season in 2017, Rodgers recorded 109 touchdown passes against only 20 interceptions in the three seasons prior – starting all 16 games each time. He will be missing one of his favorite targets in Jordie Nelson, who was let go in the offseason, but Green Bay brings back Davante Adams and Randall Cobb (140 combined catches in 2017), along with newly acquired tight end Jimmy Graham. The running game is the weakest part of the offense with Jamaal Williams leading the team last year with 556 yards. He will share the duties with Ty Montgomery while Aaron Jones serves a two-game suspension for violating the league’s substance abuse policy. The defense gets a shake-up with the hiring of new defensive coordinator Mike Pettine. The team ranked 26th in points allowed last season and 23rd against the pass.
Everyone is going to be betting the Packers in this game, so I’m waiting for the line to go up a little bit before I jump on Chicago. The Bears could be a surprise team this season, with the improved defense and the second-year experience of Trubisky. I definitely think they can keep this one close.
Pick: Bears +7.5
- Bears are 5-11 ATS in their last 16 road games.
- Bears are 1-3-1 ATS in their last 5 games in Week 1.
- Bears are 1-3-1 ATS in their last 5 games on grass.
- Bears are 2-9 ATS in their last 11 games in September.
- Bears are 1-5-1 ATS in their last 7 vs. NFC.
- Packers are 8-3 ATS in their last 11 games in Week 1.
- Packers are 8-3 ATS in their last 11 games in September.
- Packers are 2-6 ATS in their last 8 vs. NFC.
- Packers are 1-4 ATS in their last 5 home games.
- Packers are 1-4 ATS in their last 5 vs. NFC North.
- Under is 6-0 in Bears last 6 games overall.
- Under is 4-0 in Bears last 4 vs. NFC.
- Under is 5-0 in Bears last 5 road games.
- Under is 8-3 in Bears last 11 games on grass.
- Under is 10-4 in Bears last 14 games in Week 1.
- Over is 6-1 in Packers last 7 games in Week 1.
- Over is 4-1 in Packers last 5 games in September.
- Over is 4-1 in Packers last 5 games on grass.
- Over is 7-2 in Packers last 9 vs. NFC North.
- Over is 17-5 in Packers last 22 vs. NFC.
- Over is 22-7 in Packers last 29 games overall.
- Over is 7-2 in the last 9 meetings.
- Favorite is 11-4 ATS in their last 15 meetings.
- Under is 7-3 in the last 10 meetings in Green Bay.
- Bears are 10-25-1 ATS in their last 36 meetings.
- Bears are 2-5 ATS in their last 7 meetings in Green Bay.