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Bears to feast on cheese in season-opener? Get NFL Thursday Night tips

Leigh Copson 3 Sep 2019
Khalil Mack sacks Aaron Rodgers (credit:USA TODAY Network/SIPA USA/PA Images)

Green Bay Packers at Chicago Bears predictions for Week 1 of the 2019 NFL season. Will the Chicago Bears kick off their 100th year by beating bitter rivals Green Bay, or can the Packers spoil the party by beating the ‘Monsters of the Midway’ in opening week for the second season running? Read on for all of our free predictions and betting tips.

Green Bay Packers at Chicago Bears (Friday 01:20 BST)

For the second season running the oldest rivalry in the history of the National Football League will continue in opening week, but much has changed for the Chicago Bears since they stepped out onto the Lambeau Field turf 12 months ago. Last year very little was expected of the Bears when they rolled into Lambeau. Matt Nagy was making his competitive debut as a head coach after being brought in to revamp the archaic offensive approach seen under John Fox, and at the controls of his offense was the massively unproven Mitchell Trubisky, who had been given very little opportunity to win over his critics when Fox was finally left with no option but to start him in 2017. But while there were questions about the offense, there was no such cloud hanging over the defense. The blockbuster trade to lure Khalil Mack was a game-changer in the NFC North and despite missing all of pre-season due to his hold-out in Oakland, Chicago’s newest superstar linebacker made a sensational start to his career with Da Bears by playing a starring role as the Bears stunned the Packers by storming to a 17-0 half-time lead. The rest should have been history, but Mack’s lack of sharpness saw him fade in the second half and several of his team-mates, quite frankly, choked as they gave up 21 points in the final quarter to hand Green Bay a 24-23 win.

That loss would not prove to be a disappointing start to another losing season for Chicago though – the Bears went on to clinch the NFC North by downing the Packers at Soldier Field in Week 15, completing their transition from worst to first in the division in just 12 months. Nagy’s men suffered heartbreak a few weeks later in the postseason thanks to another Cody Parkey kicking blunder, but the Bears had done enough to show that they were once again a force in the NFL after several years in the wilderness, and although many, many pundits are predicting a regression for them this season, the new ‘Monsters of the Midway’ are considered a major contender to go all the way and a victory over Green Bay on opening night would almost certainly lay down an early marker and go some way to quietening their doubters.

While Chicago are seeking ultimate glory, the Packers are looking to regain the crown of ‘kings of the North’ – something they have not worn since 2016. Green Bay made the decision to axe head coach Mike McCarthy last December following an embarrassing home defeat to the Arizona Cardinals, and after going 2-2 in their final four games, to finish 6-9-1, there was never any real chance of Joe Philbin landing the job on a permanent basis. Instead they took a page out of the Bears playbook by turning to a young offensive co-ordinator in Matt LeFleur, a man who had developed quite the reputation during his stints with the Los Angeles Rams and the Tennessee Titans. Questions were immediately asked about how a rookie coach would be able to deal with the ego of the Packers’ star quarterback, Aaron Rodgers, but if the two men are on the same page and the offseason acquisitions work out well then this could prove to be a good season for the team from ‘Titletown’.

Those are some sizeable ‘ifs’ though. I am not saying this as a Bears fan, but I do find it bizarre how quickly people have been to declare Green Bay as the next champions of the NFC North. Yes there have been some good moves in free agency, but hailing Adrian Amos as a superstar capture on defense when he was considered one of the ‘worst’ players on that incredibly strong Chicago unit is pretty ridiculous. They do still have Rodgers, who is undoubtedly one of the very best to ever play the game, but when it comes to the Bears and Packers it is clear for all to see that Chicago has the better team by quite some distance. The departure of Vic Fangio to Denver was a setback for the Bears, but they have retained almost all of the unit that did the damage on the field last season and it would be massively unfair to say that success of the Bears’ defence in 2018 was solely down to the old defensive co-ordinator. New co-ordinator Chuck Pagano is hardly an inexperienced, untalented man – ask those who have worked with him and they will tell you flat out that he can do great things  with the amazing tools that he will have at his disposal in Chicago. So this sudden idea that the Bears will take such a gigantic step back is pretty farcical. And if you want to know just how the bad the disrespect has been, one pundit claims the Bears will finish last in the North… behind Detroit!

Then there is the Mitch Trubisky ‘factor’. Before I go any further let me just say, I am not predicting a Hall of Fame career for the young quarterback and I do not expect him to ever rank as an elite QB during his playing career. However, the criticism that continues to be thrown his way is laughable. Pundits – and they know who they are – continue to trot out nonsensical claims about his play despite the fact that the numbers and tape highlight just how wrong they are. Some have gone so far as to highlight a negative play in the Pro Bowl to try to make their case. At this point they are making themselves look stupid or they are just being stubborn and sticking to their post-Draft claims that he would be a bust. Trubisky clearly has a very good upside and he did a solid job at picking up Nagy’s intricate playbook a year ago. There are still moments from him that make Bears fans cringe and he will almost certainly make some mistakes this season, but he has shown flashes of brilliance and he has the talent around him that can help him get the job done.

So how can I do anything but predict a Chicago victory on Thursday night? The Packers are not going to go quietly and Rodgers will have some highlight-grabbing moments, but despite all of the preseason naysayers this is still a very strong Chicago team who will likely battle for the NFC North title with Minnesota. They are certainly in a lot better place than when these two teams went head-to-head a year ago and as long as they play to the levels they are capable of then they should start the franchise’s 100th year party in the best possible fashion, winning back-to-back games against Green Bay for the first time since 2007!

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Bears to feast on cheese in season-opener? Get NFL Thursday Night tips

Green Bay Packers at Chicago Bears for Week 1 of the 2019 NFL season.

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