Green Bay Packers at Chicago Bears

Packers: After missing the playoffs the last two seasons, there’s some uncertainty surrounding this iconic franchise. Will they ever get Aaron Rodgers a consistent weapon? I can answer that: He does have Davante Adams who’s become a top receiver in the game. Will the Packers ever get their running game going to help take pressure off the quarterback? Or, will the defense ever be consistent? For so long, it’s been the quarterback helping the defense with covering the holes, now it’s time for the defense to pick things up and help the quarterback. The Packers offense could receive a big-time upgrade with their new head coach. Matt LaFleur is an offensive minded guy who’s been around the league for a while. In 2016, he was the quarterbacks’ coach for the Atlanta Falcons when Matt Ryan was named league MVP. Here’s the thing now: Young, offensive minded coaches are in. It just happens to be the new wave in the league now. The Rams took a chance on Sean McVay, look how that’s worked. Last year, the Bears hired Matt Nagy, look what happened. The Packers are hoping that luck will fall in their favor. The offense will be without Randall Cobb who signed with the Cowboys in the offseason. I always considered him to be that safety piece for Aaron because he was so versatile and could be used anywhere from the outside on the perimeter to the inside in the slot. Finally, the Packers front office showed some aggression and added some pieces to their defense. They signed Za’Darius Smith and Preston Smith to contracts. Both guys can rush the passer. If all pans out, these two along with rookie Rashan Gary on the outside could be scary. To replace Kentrell Brice in the secondary, the Packers signed safety Adrian Amos. A new season begins tonight. Let’s start it off with some rivalry football.

Bears: I don’t think anybody expected much from them in 2018. A new head coach, a quarterback finally coming in as the full-time starter and many questions that were unanswered. Then came the trade that had the entire football world talking when the Bears decided to acquire defensive superstar and all-pro Khalil Mack. What an impact he made on this entire team. The Bears didn’t have a leader on defense since the Brian Urlacher days, but they have one now. This team came out of nowhere in 2018. With the Minnesota Vikings showing inconsistency and the Packers struggling to get into a rhythm, the NFC North was the Bears division for the taking. With a first-year head coach in Matt Nagy, they were able to win the NFC North for the first time since 2010 and hosted a playoff game. What I’m looking forward to watching is seeing how Mitchell Tribusky can take that next step as a quarterback. Despite missing a few games last season, he put together a nice year. He threw 24 touchdown passes, completed 66 percent of his passes and threw for over 3,000 yards and people still aren’t convinced he’s the quarterback for the Bears. Here’s what I have to say to that: He’s young and he’s still developing. He won’t blow people away like Mahomes did. However, He’s headed in the right direction because of the tutelage of his head coach who happens to be an offensive minded guy and a former quarterback himself. I want to talk about the reigning coach of the year for a second. Matt Nagy came in and bought a new feel to a team that’s struggled for years. I’ve often compared a new coach to a salesperson. He must sell what he’s trying to give to the players and then the team buys in. Some of the players have referred to Matt as “one of the guys but with more authority”. Sounds like a true players coach to me. Vic Fangio is no longer the defensive coordinator as he took the job in Denver to become the head coach of the Broncos. They lost a great coach but replaced him with another great defensive mind in Chuck Pagano who will do great with this unit which I thought was the best defense in the league. Chuck was the defensive coordinator of the Baltimore Ravens for many years and I expect him to add some things from Baltimore to an already loaded defense in the Windy City. They have a strong defensive line that attacks up front which allows a quick group of linebackers to seek the football in the open and tackle and a secondary that’s improved over the years. A new season begins for the Monsters of the Midway and I think they want to prove that last season wasn’t a fluke. I see them entering this year with a big chip on their shoulder after how their season ended in January.

Packers Player To Watch: Geronimo Allison– He was always out shadowed by Adams and Randall Cobb. Now that Cobb is gone, I see him being used more within LaFleur’s offense which could be very scary. He’s been the Packers slot guy since coming into the league. Coach has tested him to play multiple spots. If he plays well and stays healthy, this could be dangerous.

Bears Player To Watch: Danny Trevathan– You need a guy to stop the run, he does it. You need a guy to cover the flat and get to the ball-carrier to make the tackle, he can do it. He can get to the quarterback as well. Danny always knows where to be to make a play for his defense. Those are the football players you must appreciate.

Final Analysis: This is the perfect match up to begin the 100th season of this incredible sport. One of the oldest rivalries in our game is here on the primetime stage. Can the Packers put these last two struggling seasons behind them? I’m anxious to see how this defense comes out. Their offense has shouldered the load for so long, now it’s time for the other side of the ball to step it up. LaFleur made a smart move by retaining Mike Pettine to remain the team’s defensive coordinator. It’s key for the Packers offensive line to outbattle the Bears defensive front which won’t be an easy task. Their defense must keep Tribusky from making plays with his feet. For the Bears, controlling the clock is key. Running the ball, displaying a balanced offense and Tribusky taking care of the ball is essential for them. The defense will handle the rest.

Prediction: Bears 24 Packers 21