What better way is there to start your NFL season than by playing your fiercest rival? The Chicago Bears visit the Green Bay Packers on Sunday night in a battle of two NFC North foes (8:20 p.m. ET on NBC).
The all-time series between these two teams gives the Packers a 96-94-6 edge. Last season, Green Bay beat Chicago 35-14 at home and then 23-16 on the road.
Both teams have sides of the football where they are clearly better. The Packers have a fantastic offense and the Bears’ defense has potential to be the best in the league after acquiring pass-rush extraordinaire Khalil Mack last weekend.
How will this matchup play out? We will discuss some key factors before deciding on our Chicago Bears vs Green Bay Packers predictions and the best picks for this game.
Is Quarterback Mitch Trubisky Ready For a Second-Year Leap Under New Head Coach?
The Bears went all-in to make sure they secured Trubisky in the 2017 NFL draft. They gave up their No. 3 overall pick and three other early-round picks just to move up to the No. 2 overall pick, where they would grab Trubisky.
Has the move paid off yet? It’s too early to tell. Trubisky showed some potential in 12 games last season, but he wasn’t spectacular. It is important to remember that he also only started 13 games in his college career at North Carolina.
He enters his second season as an inexperienced 24-year-old with a new head coach, Matt Nagy. Nagy is much more offensive-minded than John Fox and should be very involved with Trubisky’s development. With running back Jordan Howard and several new solid receivers, Trubisky has respectable skill position players to aid his development.
Can Packers Utilize Their New Weapon at Tight End?
The Packers’ offense lives and dies with quarterback Aaron Rodgers. The team scored 7.8 points per game fewer last season when he was on the sidelines compared to when he was playing.
However, this Green Bay offense got another key weapon in the offseason. Tight end Jimmy Graham has averaged more than 920 yards and nine touchdowns receiving since 2011. He is a dangerous red-zone target with his sure hands and 6’7”, 265-pound frame.
However, Rodgers has traditionally struggled to use tight ends as a major part of the offense. Can he get Graham comfortable right away and make the Packers’ offense a nightmare to stop?
How Quickly & How Well Will Bears Integrate Khalil Mack?
The Bears had a good defense last year. They ranked ninth in points allowed and 10th in yardage allowed. However, they didn’t have an elite pass-rusher. Defensive end Akiem Hicks was very good, but his 8.5 sacks in 2017 didn’t set the world on fire.
Enter Mack, who the Bears just traded for last Saturday. The former Oakland Raider has averaged more than 12 sacks per season since 2015 and is an absolute menace at chasing down quarterbacks whether he is an outside linebacker or defensive end.
It’s not too often that major NFL trades happen this close to the regular season, so Mack probably won’t be at his full strength in the Bears’ defense right away. The question here is how close to full strength he will be. Are he and defensive coordinator Vic Fangio already on the same page, or will there be some hiccups? We will definitely see on Sunday.
Our Betting Preview’s Chicago Bears vs. Green Bay Packers Picks & Predictions
I think we’ll see just how big a difference there is between a superstar quarterback playing at home and an inexperienced quarterback playing on the road. Aaron Rodgers has a 59-15 record at Lambeau Field with a 109.2 passer rating. Mitch Trubisky accumulated a 68.9 passer rating on the road last season.
While the Bears’ defense will end up being very good this season, I don’t know if a Week 1 road game against Rodgers is going to be the time when everything comes together for them. Chicago could end up making too many adjustments to integrate Mack that it actually makes it harder to win this game.
This is how our Chicago Bears vs Green Bay Packers predictions look:
- Green Bay has the definite edge in this game and it should strike early in front of its excellent home-field advantage. Expect the Packers to cover the spread in this game. Our pick is to take your best odds of Green Bay -7pts @ -115 with Bookmaker. All the other major sportbooks for U.S. players have a bigger spread that that (-7.5pts or worse).
- As the preview mentioned above, the Bears’ defense won’t be at full power on Sunday. Expect Green Bay’s offense to win that battle early on and force the Bears’ offense to pick up the pace in the second half. Bet on this game’s points total going over 47pts @ the best option of -110 with 5Dimes.