It is the oldest rivalry in the NFL, and the Green Bay at Chicago kicks off Week 1 of the NFL season. One team is getting over a heartbreaking playoff loss, while the other will see if a new coach can turn around the team’s fortunes. Chicago is a 3-point favorite, and the over/under is 46.5.
The Bears finished last year 12-4 and were one of the top picks to win the Super Bowl. When they got bounced in the Wild Card game by Philadelphia, it was a crushing defeat. They vowed to make getting to the Super Bowl a goal for this season.
The Packers just want to make a return to the playoffs. They finished 6-9-1 last year, and fired coach Mike McCarthy before the end of the year. They brought in Matt LeFleur, who instantly got some blowback from star quarterback Aaron Rodgers. How the two work with one another will be a key to the team’s season.
There are several other storylines going into Thursday’s game at Soldier Field. We take a look at a few of them below.
Can Chicago’s Defense Dominate?
All indications are that it should. The league’s No. 1 defense didn’t lose anyone, in fact they added former Packer and Redskins safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, and cornerback Buster Skrin. Two rookies, cornerback Duke Shelley, and rookie linebacker Josh Woods should give the defense some depth.
While the defense is strong, they did watch Green Bay win last year, and that bothers All Pro linebacker Khalil Mack.
All I can remember now is that we didn’t win the game, ultimately,” Mack said. “You do those things to be able to just win the game. That’s all I can think about that game every time I look at the highlights.”
Can Trubisky Carry Load?
While Chicago’s defense is stout, the offense doesn’t get the credit it deserves. They were the ninth-best in the NFL last year, and even though quarterback Mitchell Trubisky receives a lot of criticism, he has been a solid signal caller.
The issue is whether he can lead this team to a deep run in the playoffs this year. If the team doesn’t get far in the postseason, it will be Trubisky who will get the blame.
“I think for me it’s just keeping perspective, having that mindset ahead of time that all I need to do is go in there and do my job,” said Trubisky. “Stay relaxed, do exactly what I would do in practice. Do what I would do in the middle of the season last year; just create rhythm for the offense, doing my job, getting the ball to the playmakers and just playing within the moment.”
Can Rodgers Follow Game Plan?
There has been squabbling and back biting by Packers’ quarterback Aaron Rodgers and his new coach. Rodgers doesn’t like the offensive scheme, and he blasted his coach for having joint practices.
Is that just preseason posturing, or is there something to the public comments? This game should give us an indication on how much Rodgers is going to follow the game plan. He has been able to audible at the line in the past, but LaFleur is not a fan of it.
Rodgers has said he feels confident they can beat the Bears on the road. Rodgers has won 16 of 21 games he’s started against.
‘I have a lot of respect for their fans,” Rodgers said. “They know when to cheer. They’re loud. They have a lot of really good trash talk on the sideline. But we’ve also won in that place before and you take that confidence with you.”