The NFL regular season is almost upon us and the resurgent Chicago Bears are odds-on to kick off their campaign in style in the early September curtain-raiser.
Well Matched Rivals
The rivalry between these two NFC North teams is one of the oldest in the sport’s history, dating back to November 1921 when the Chicago Stayleys beat the Green Bay Packers 20-0. All told, they have met 198 times and the Packers lead the series by a narrow 97-95 margin, with six ties. That even contest played out again last season. Although Chicago topped the Division while Green Bay missed out on the play-offs, both games between the two were won by the home side.
Trubisky the Key for Bears
The Bears have one of the best rosters in the NFL, particularly defensively. The combination of a solid defensive line and the dynamic pass-rushing of Khalil Mack means that this season’s slightly weakened secondary shouldn’t be under too much pressure. That defense alone is enough to make Chicago contenders for the Division title again this season, but to progress further, they need more from third-year quarterback Mitchell Trubisky, who was inconsistent throughout 2018. If he can start to fulfil his potential, the Bears could be in for a memorable season.
Everything Hinges on Rodgers
As with the Bears, Green Bay’s season is likely to depend largely on their quarterback, but for different reasons. Aaron Rodgers is at the opposite career stage to Trubisky, but when fit, is perhaps the best quarterback in the league, and he could be even more effective this time round given that the Packers’ collection of young receivers has had another season working with him. But getting through a full season unscathed will be the challenge for a player who has missed too many games in recent seasons, and without him, Green Bay are a much poorer team.
This is a tough clash for the Bears to start their campaign, but they do at least get to play at Soldier Field, and that should give them an edge. They are the 8/13 favourites with some bookmakers to kick off the season with a win, while Green Bay are 6/4 outsiders for the opener.