Packers vs Bears Preview & Free Pick [Week 1]

Green Bay (0-0) at Chicago (0-0)
When: Thursday, September 5, 2019
Where: Soldier Field,
Chicago, Illinois
Time: 8:20 ET | TV: NBC
Opening Odds: Chicago -3.5/46

The 100th NFL season begins Thursday night with the oldest rivalry in the league when the Green Bay Packers visit the Chicago Bears at Soldier Field. Usually, the NFL season begins on a Thursday night with the reigning Super Bowl champion hosting the Kickoff Game, but the league decided to go with a historic game and move the New England Patriots to the Sunday Night telecast. The Bears are three-point favorites as of Wednesday morning with a total of 46.5 at most sportsbooks and pay per head shops. It’s the second straight year the teams open against one another and last year’s was a classic. Chicago led 20-0 late in the third quarter at Lambeau Field, but a hobbled Aaron Rodgers rallied the Packers to a stunning 24-23 victory. Not much else went Green Bay’s way the rest of the season, as they missed the playoffs, while Chicago went on to win the NFC North. The Bears did beat the Packers at Soldier Field in Week 15, 24-17, to clinch the division when quarterback Mitchell Trubisky threw for two scores and outplayed Rodgers. The Packers are still 12-5 against the spread in the past 17 meetings and the total has gone over in five of the previous six in Chicago. Thursday’s game marks the first regular-season tilt for Matt LaFleur as Green Bay’s coach, while Chicago’s Matt Nagy returns for his second with new defensive coordinator Chuck Pagano.

The big question going into this season is how the Green Bay offense will look with LaFleur unveiling a new scheme. Rodgers seems confident even though he didn’t play in the preseason, but will have trusted target Davante Adams on his side. The veteran receiver had a monster 2018, hauling in 111 catches for 1,386 yards while finishing tied for second in the league with 13 touchdowns. Aaron Jones brought life to the running game with eight scores (seven rushing, one receiving) in a seven-game stretch before a knee injury ended his season in the loss to Chicago in Week 15. Green Bay largely focused on defense this off-season in adding linebackers Za’Darius Smith and Preston Smith in free agency as well as former Bears safety Adrian Amos. The team’s first-round pick – Michigan defensive lineman Rashan Gary – was injured in Week 3 of the pre-season against the Raiders, but is good to go Thursday.

The Bears won the division for the first time 2010 and for the most part everyone is back. The major losses were defensive backs Amos and Bryce Callahan in free agency and defensive coordinator Vic Fangio to Oakland. Pagano will take over a unit that led the league in fewest points allowed (17.7 per game), takeaways (36), interceptions (27) and fewest rushing yards (80.0 per game). Chicago has a top Offensive Rookie of the Year candidate in third-round running back David Montgomery from Iowa State. Neither receiver Anthony Miller nor top tight end Trey Burton played this preseason due to injury but both are expected for Week 1. Mitchell Trubisky overcame three lackluster games to begin the 2018 season – including one at Green Bay – to guide Chicago to the postseason. Wide receiver Allen Robinson, who led the team in targets (94) and receiving yards (754), is back, while running back Tarik Cohen likely will see a reduction in touches out of the backfield despite amassing 1,169 scrimmage yards (725 receiving, 444 rushing) and eight touchdowns (five receiving, three rushing) in favor of Montgomery.

The Packers are coming off a tough season and it might take them a game or two to get the new offense going and starting against this Bears’ defense won’t help. The Bears finished 2018 by going 9-2 ATS and are on a 7-0 ATS run against the NFC North. I expect Chicago to jump out to a lead against Green Bay and hold on this time – unlike last year in Week 1. 24-17 Bears.

Pick: Bears -3

Packers are 3-0-1 ATS in their last 4 Thursday games.
Packers are 2-7-1 ATS in their last 10 road games.
Packers are 1-4-1 ATS in their last 6 vs. NFC.
Packers are 0-4 ATS in their last 4 vs. NFC North.

Bears are 7-0 ATS in their last 7 vs. NFC North.
Bears are 6-1 ATS in their last 7 games on grass.
Bears are 9-2 ATS in their last 11 games overall.
Bears are 8-2 ATS in their last 10 vs. NFC.
Bears are 16-5-1 ATS in their last 22 home games.
Bears are 3-9-1 ATS in their last 13 Thursday games.

Over is 7-1 in Packers last 8 games in Week 1.
Under is 5-1 in Packers last 6 games on grass.
Under is 4-1 in Packers last 5 vs. NFC.
Over is 6-2 in Packers last 8 Thursday games.
Over is 20-8 in Packers last 28 games in September.
Under is 7-3 in Packers last 10 games overall.
Over is 37-18 in Packers last 55 road games.

Under is 5-0 in Bears last 5 games overall.
Under is 4-0 in Bears last 4 games on grass.
Under is 5-0 in Bears last 5 vs. NFC.

Over is 5-1 in the last 6 meetings in Chicago.
Over is 4-1 in the last 5 meetings.
Packers are 16-5 ATS in their last 21 meetings in Chicago.
Packers are 12-5 ATS in their last 17 meetings.
Favorite is 12-5 ATS in their last 17 meetings.