The defending NFC North champion Chicago Bears kick off their 100th season against their rival, the Green Bay Packers, this Thursday night at Soldier Field. The Bears went 1-1 against Green Bay last year, including a memorable loss to a near one-legged Aaron Rodgers week one.
The Bears haven’t swept the Packers since 2007, and they have high expectations for this season. In order to resume their position as kings of the NFC North, however, they’ll have to beat Green Bay. Here are five Bears who will need to have big games if the Bears want to win the season opener:
In his two games against the Packers last season, Robinson was targeted 14 times. He caught seven of those passes for a total of 115 yards and no touchdowns. He’ll have to do better this season against Green Bay, especially if he wants to assist his young quarterback and become a true WR1.
Many feel that Robinson is set to break out this year. He just turned 26, is two years removed from his knee injury, and he recently said that he feels like a totally different player this year. Having an impact on the game and beating Green Bay’s secondary would be a good start.
It will be the rookie out of Iowa State’s first professional game, and the Bears cannot wait to show him off.
Montgomery seems as relaxed and focused as any rookie in recent memory, and he seems ready. He recently told the Chicago Sun-Times that he was planning on napping the day he makes his NFL debut, and he certainly doesn’t sound nervous. “All I’m thinking about is just knowing what I need to know and when I need to know it,” he said. “That’s definitely my approach to a lot of things — not just football, but life in general…I don’t show too much emotion.” If he plays well Thursday against Green Bay, Bears fans will likely have enough emotion to go around.
Floyd has played consistently well against Green Bay. In six career games against them, he has netted 5.5 sacks, five tackles for loss, a forced fumble, a fumble recovery, and a touchdown. With Khalil Mack on the other side, Floyd could have a monster of a game–and he’ll need to in order to neutralize Rodgers, who remains one of the best quarterbacks in the league.
Floyd is entering his fourth season with the Bears, and has yet to have a season with double-digit sacks. He’s also primed to have a career year. Look for him to have a big game against the Packers, complete with a sack or two.
This will be Piñeiro’s first NFL game, and it’s coming off one of the more intense kicker competitions in recent memory. Oh, and it’s against his team’s greatest rival in a game that continues the league’s oldest rivalry.
Piñeiro has the confidence of both his head coach and his teammates. Quarterback Mitchell Trubisky loves the energy the young kicker brings: “He’s done a great job in the preseason and as a teammate and a brother of this team, we’re behind him 100 percent of the way. I love the excitement that Eddy kind of brings and that juice, how he gets excited after he makes a kick. I feed off that and the other guys feed off that as well,” Trubisky said. Piñeiro hopes to bring plenty of juice Thursday night.
After the Bears and Packers essentially swapped safeties this offseason, it’s likely that both Adrian Amos and HaHa Clinton-Dix will want to show their former teams they made mistakes by not keeping them. They will both get their chances Thursday night, and Clinton-Dix will try to prove that he’s not the weakest link on a stellar Bears defense.
Clinton-Dix says he feels energized by the new team and organization, and feels confident that he has a key role to play. “It’s been amazing,” Clinton-Dix told the Chicago Sun-Times recently. “Since I’ve come in, guys have been open-arms with me. I’m acclimated, man. I’m a puzzle piece that fits right in.” How well he fits will be on full display Thursday.
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