Green Bay Packers at Chicago Bears
When: 8:20 PM ET, Thursday, September 5, 2019
Where: Soldier Field, Chicago, Illinois
Preview for Digital Sports Desk by Gracenote
CHICAGO – One may not have to go back to the hallowed names of Lombardi and Halas to see why the Green Bay Packers-Chicago Bears rivalry is the most celebrated in NFL history. Nearly one year removed from Aaron Rodgers’ memorable performance in the Packers’ stirring comeback win over the Bears, the NFC North rivals kick off the league’s 100th season Thursday night at Soldier Field in Chicago.
Rodgers overcame an early knee injury to throw three touchdown passes in the second half as Green Bay rallied from a 20-point deficit to post a 24-23 victory Sept 9. The two-time NFL Most Valuable Player’s heroics were enough to win that game, but the Packers were forced to watch the division champion Bears in the playoffs after the latter joined Houston as the lone NFL teams to complete a “worst-to-first” turnaround in 2018.
While Thursday’s game marks the first regular-season tilt for Matt LaFleur as Green Bay’s coach, Chicago’s Matt Nagy returns for his second with new defensive coordinator Chuck Pagano inheriting 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). Former NFL Defensive Player of the Year Khalil Mack reached double digits in sacks for the third straight year in 2018 with a team-leading 12.5 while Kyle Fuller tied for the league lead with seven interceptions.
TV: 8:20 p.m. ET, NBC. LINE: Bears -3. O/U: 46.5
ABOUT THE PACKERS (2018: 6-9-1, 3RD IN NFC NORTH): LaFleur will unveil a new offensive scheme when he walks the sideline in place of Mike McCarthy, who reportedly had a contentious relationship with Rodgers. The 35-year-old quarterback’s most trusted target Davante Adams is looking to build off a career season in which he reeled in 111 receptions for 1,386 yards while finishing tied for second in the league with 13 touchdowns. Running back Aaron Jones enjoyed a brilliant seven-game stretch in which he totaled eight scores (seven rushing, one receiving) before a knee injury ended his season in a 24-17 loss to Chicago in Week 15.
ABOUT THE BEARS (2018: 12-4, 1ST IN NFC NORTH): Mitchell Trubisky overcame three lackluster games to begin the 2018 season – including one at Green Bay – to guide Chicago to its first division title since 2010. The 25-year-old likely will lean on Allen Robinson, who led the team in targets (94) and receiving yards (754) – just ahead of running back Tarik Cohen. The electric 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 third-round draft pick David Montgomery, who is expected to take on a significant role in place of the departed Jordan Howard (Philadelphia).
- Chicago K Eddy Pineiro, who made 11 of 13 kicks in the preseason, will be tasked with helping the team – and its fans – work its way past Cody Parkey’s missed field goal that cost the club in the playoffs last year.
- Packers S Adrian Amos and S Ha Ha Clinton Dix (Bears) will make their season debuts against their respective former teams.
- Chicago TE Trey Burton (groin strain) will be a game-time decision for Thursday’s contests, per Nagy.