Thursday night football plays host to the one of the NFL’s longest and most personal rivalries as the (1-5) Chicago Bears travel to historic Lambeau Field for the first of two regular season matchups against the (3-2) Green Bay Packers (8.25pm ET).
These two teams are no stranger to each other and over the years have played games marked by intensity and competitive spirit. Second only to MLB’s New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox in terms of length of rivalry, the Bears and Packers always bring it when they are faced against each other. That has always been especially true for when the two play at Lambeau.
Last year, the Packers and Bears met to open the 2015 season in a game that was dominated by offense. The final score was 31-23 in favor of Green Bay as they took the first meeting and the only one at Soldier Field. The road team struck back as the Bears outdid the Packers 17-13 in the second to last game of the season.
This brought the overall series head-to-head to 94-92-6. Basically this means it’s as close as it gets between these two NFC North rivals.
Over the years this rivalry has shifted with ebbs and flows toward both teams. Green Bay is on a bit of a recent streak, winning 10 of the last 12, but records aside, this year’s Packers team is a far cry from that one. It is also likely that Green Bay will be without one of its top weapons in RB Eddie Lacy, while defensively, they will be missing two or possibly three cornerbacks. This is an unenviable situation to be in especially when the Bears’ backup QB Brian Hoyer (pictured) is coming off of four straight 300+ yard passing weeks. He is the first Chicago QB in history to put up this kind of streak.
It’s safe to say that this game could go either way given the nature of the rivalry and given the way both teams have played this season and how they have been playing lately. However this preview will conclude with its picks and here are some of the keys to follow on Thursday night that will help us reach our betting predictions.
What Has Happened to Aaron Rodgers?
A few years ago, Green Bay’s Aaron Rodgers was the best quarterback in the NFL. He won the Super Bowl, won the MVP and was just one of the most prolific passers that the game had seen in some time. Rodgers enjoyed this high level of success for quite a few years but this year, something has been off with the Green Bay gunslinger.
In just five games, Rodgers has already thrown four interceptions. Now, to the untrained eye this probably doesn’t sound much, but look at Rodgers’ track record. In his career, the veteran QB has thrown no more than 13 interceptions in a single season. Last year, in 16 games, he threw just eight. The year prior, just five. No one has had the accuracy of Rodgers, who when he is on, is one of the best ever to throw the football. This year Rodgers has admitted to being a little bit off and the product has shown.
Rodgers has just 10 touchdowns to those four interceptions and is averaging just the two scores a game. He is also currently completing only 60.2 percent of his passes, which if that number holds, would be his lowest career percentage since 2008 when he became Green Bay’s starting QB.
Now, the career Packer has every opportunity to turn it around this season and, luckily for him, the Bears are a great place to start. That is because Rodgers has always been dominant in games against Chicago, posting a 10-3 record with over 2,600 yards, 29 touchdowns (and just seven interceptions) and a QB rating of 102.7 which is the best of his career against any single team. Rodgers also won his only postseason meeting with the Bears in the 2010 NFC Championship.
While Green Bay’s signal caller has not been perfect this year, there is something about this rivalry game that brings out the best in him. If ever there was a time for him to get back to being the Rodgers of old, a Thursday clash against the Bears and at Lambeau Field is the perfect storm for that to happen.
Can Brian Hoyer Turn Bears’ Fortunes Around?
Maybe the reason Rodgers is struggling is because his talent went somewhere else, namely to Chicago’s QB Brian Hoyer. Taking over for the injured Jay Cutler, who has had little to no success in the rivalry games against the Packers, Hoyer has made the most with the weapons at his disposal.
Leading the way offensively is of course Alshon Jeffrey, who would make any quarterback look good. He leads the team with 29 receptions and 487 yards. Also with 29 receptions is the veteran Eddie Royal, who has been as reliable a pass catcher as Hoyer could ask for. Cameron Meredith has also been a great addition, catching 26 passes for 295 yards.
This trio and their QB will have sizeable matchup advantages as the Packers deal with injuries to each of their top three cornerbacks. After just being picked apart by Dak Prescott and the Dallas Cowboys, despite the team missing their top weapon in Dez Bryant, the Packers have the short week turnaround. Defensively, the Packers have struggled without their top two defenders in Sam Shields and Quentin Rollins and against Chicago’s lethal pass catchers, this isn’t exactly the best situation for Green Bay to be in.
Our Preview’s Chicago Bears vs Green Bay Packers Betting Picks’ Predictions
So, coming to the picks and betting predictions for this preview, the Packers enter this game as between 7.5pts and 9pts home favorites, depending which of the USA online betting sites you look at. That is surprising given the defensive injuries and the injuries to Lacy and backup James Starks. Green Bay won’t have much of a running game so it will be even more important for Rodgers and the passing offense to get it going.
That being said, even though I’m still taking the Packers to get the win, I like the Bears to keep it close. A lot of these rivalry games have been blowouts but neither team really looks like they are built for that to happen this year.
- So this preview’s betting pick is to take the Bears +9pts @ -130 to best the spread with 5Dimes Sportsbook. You can get better odds than that if you forfeit some of the points advantage, with Bovada going +8pts @ -105 and BetOnline go +7.5pts @ -110.
- As for the prediction for the total points scored in this game, bet on the total to go over 46 @ odds of -110 with any of Bovada, 5Dimes or BetOnline US- facing sportsbooks.
Marilee writes on NFL, MLB, NBA & tennis for USA Betting. Another area of her sporting journalistic expertise is pro wrestling. A native of Philadelphia and a big Eagles fan, she has been a sports writer for many major websites including Bleacher Report and Rant Sports. She started her journalistic career early, as sports editor for her college newspaper.