It was memorable the last time the two rivals met up for a season opener. On one leg, quarterback Aaron Rodgers led the Packers to a stunning comeback victory, shaking off a 20-point deficit in the second-half to win 24-23. The Bears, however, would get the last laugh, winning the second matchup and the division.
Chicago is listed as a 3.5-point favorite for the game with an over-under of 46.5. According to Odds Shark, bettors are currently split 50-50 on the game.
Here’s some background, stats, advice on who to back in this one as we get the NFL season started on the right note.
Packers vs. Bears: NFC North Rivals Play Close Games
The rivalry between the NFC North rivals is about as close as it can get. The Packers hold a slight 97-95-6 edge in the series, which includes two playoff games (1-1), according to the Packer’s official site.
The NFC North rivals will meet up on Dec. 13 at Lambeau field for game No. 200 and if the Bears are able to sweep the season series, the rivals would be all knotted up.
It should be a good one, as six of the last seven games between the two teams at Soldier Field have been decided by single digits.
Rodgers leads the Packers into the matchup and is entering his 12th season as the starter in Green Bay. He’s had quite the run of success against the Bears, with Green Bay having a 17-5 against Chicago in games Rodgers starts.
Rodgers is coming off a season where he threw for 4,442 yards and 25 touchdowns to just two interceptions. However, he’ll be in a new offense for the first time since he became starter in 2008 with the arrival of head coach Matt LaFleur.
Rodgers did not play a single snap of preseason football, but LaFleur has complete confidence in his QB.
“He’s been there before, he’s got a lot of game reps,” LaFleur told The Associated Press. “The one thing you can always find comfort in is that you know the moment won’t be too big for him. He’s played in a lot of big games.”
On the other side is Bears quarterback Mitch Trubisky, who made the Pro Bowl last season with a 11-3 record as the starter in Chicago. He passed for 3,223 yards and 24 TDs to 12 interceptions.
But the real story when it comes to the Bears is the defense, led by linebacker Khalil Mack. The unit notched 36 takeaways and 27 interceptions a year ago, while also sporting the best rush and scoring defense last season.
Packers vs. Bears: Pick & Prediction
Rodgers will give the Packers an advantage at the quarterback position in most games and a matchup with the Bears is no exception. Plus he has great track record when playing Chicago. Rodgers will also have some backup, with the return of Geronimo Allison — who played just five games last year — giving the Davante Adams-led wide receiver corps a boost.
However, the Bears stingy defense is pegged to be one of the NFL’s best and Mack showed what he could do to impact a game. In two games last season, Mack recorded 3.5 sacks, a forced fumble, a fumble recovery and an interception that he returned for a touchdown.
Bears rookie running back David Montgomery could also be a huge factor if he’s able to get going, helping Chicago keep the ball out of Rodgers hands.
The Bears have massive expectations this season and the Packers — with Rodgers one year older — will likely take some time to find their footing under LaFleur.
Take the home team in this one to win and cover.
Pick: Bears -3.5
Over-under: Under 46.5
Prediction: Bears 28, Packers 17