NFL Expert Picks Against the Spread: Green Bay Packers vs. Chicago Bears
The NFL did a great thing in starting the season with a Thursday night game in 2002 and then two years later starting the tradition of having the defending Super Bowl champion host the Thursday Kickoff Game. However, I believe the league also was dead-on this year by booting the champion New England Patriots to the Sunday night game vs. Pittsburgh - even though that's a fantastic matchup - in favor of Green Bay at Chicago on Thursday to open the 2019 campaign.
I mean, don't we all have Patriots fatigue at this point? But the league did it because this is the 100th anniversary of the NFL and the Bears are arguably the flagship team in the league and also celebrating their 100th anniversary - the only team to do so in 2019. Green Bay celebrated its 100th year of football last season.
This also will draw boffo ratings because the Packers and the Bears are two of the most popular franchises in the league - one could argue only behind the Cowboys and Patriots (and that will fade when Tom Brady retires). It's the 14th straight season that these two will play in a prime-time game. It seems that whenever the Bears are in prime time, something really weird happens. They blew a late-third quarter 20-0 lead on Sunday night in Green Bay in Week 1 last year and lost 24-23.
Packers at Bears Betting Story Lines
If you were hoping to learn much about either club's first-team offense this preseason, forget it. There were four starting quarterbacks who didn't take a snap in an exhibition game, and Green Bay's Aaron Rodgers and Chicago's Mitchell Trubisky were two of them (Chargers' Philip Rivers and Rams' Jared Goff the others). As an aside, the Bears apparently won't win the Super Bowl this season because they were 1-3 in exhibition games and no team with a preseason losing record has won it all since 2007; the Packers finished 2-2.
Bit surprised that Rodgers didn't play considering he is learning a new offensive scheme under first-year head coach Matt LaFleur. The former Titans offensive coordinator is yet another young coach from the Sean McVay tree. LaFleur apparently was going to let Rodgers play Week 3, but you may remember (perhaps saw on "Hard Knocks") that the field in Winnipeg for that game vs. the Raiders was a mess so LaFleur decided not to play any starters. There has been some scuttlebutt already that Rodgers and LaFleur aren't on the same page on some aspects, mainly Rodgers' ability to change plays at the line of scrimmage. I'll definitely be watching to see if/how often Rodgers audibles.
Just about everything went right for the Bears last year in finishing 12-4 and winning the NFC North/making the playoffs for the first time since 2010. Coach Matt Nagy was hired because he was a creative offensive mind, and he definitely showed that. Mitchell Trubisky was still rather inconsistent in his second year but certainly made progress. If the Bears are going to make the Super Bowl, he's going to have to take another leap forward because it's almost impossible for that Bears defense not to regress from last year's almost historic performance. The trade for Khalil Mack changed everything, and the Bears forced a whopping 36 turnovers. It would be unprecedented to force that many again. The team also lost highly-respected DC Vic Fangio, now the head coach of Denver. Former Colts coach Chuck Pagano replaces him and plans to be even more aggressive.
Packers at Bears Betting Odds and Trends
At 5Dimes, Chicago is a 3-point favorite (-115) with a total of 45.5. On the moneyline, the Bears are -165 and Packers +145. On the alternate lines, Chicago is -3.5 (+110) and -2.5 (-140). The Bears were 7-1 against the spread at home last season and 4-4 "over/under." The Packers were 2-5-1 ATS on the road and 4-4 O/U.
Green Bay is 3-0-1 ATS in its past four on Thursday but has failed to cover its past four overall vs. the NFC North. Chicago has covered seven straight vs. the NFC North and is 16-5-1 ATS in its previous 22 at home. The under is 7-3 in the Packers' past 10. It's 5-0 in the Bears' past five. Green Bay is 12-5 ATS in the past 17 meetings, the over is 4-1 in the previous five.
Packers at Bears Betting Prediction
This is only the third time this decade that Chicago is favored over Green Bay in a regular-season game - both at Soldier Field -- and second in a game Rodgers will play. Two years ago in Week 10, Chicago lost 23-16 at -4.5 as Brett Hundley threw for 212 yards and a score in place of an injured Rodgers. Last year in Week 15, Chicago was -5.5 and won 24-17 behind two TDs from Trubisky, who outplayed Rodgers (didn't throw a TD and had a pick).
These franchises appear headed in somewhat opposite directions, although Green Bay obviously still has a huge edge at quarterback. For that reason, I'll say the Packers lose by only 3, so I'll take the Bears at -2.5 and go under the total. Most computer projections have it around 24-21 (so barely under the total).
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