The Green Bay Packers and Chicago Bears will waste no time getting an NFC North rivalry started when they square off at Green Bay’s Lambeau Field in Week 1 on Sunday night. Chicago is looking for its first playoff appearance since 2010. The Packers missed the postseason last year in part due to Aaron Rodgers’ injury woes.
The Bears recently acquired linebacker Khalil Mack from Oakland and he is expected to be on the field when his new team pays a visit to the Frozen Tundra–which won’t be any kid of frozen on Sunday–for a Week 1 divisional showdown.
“We’ll get to see where he’s at mentally and then physically we’ll have a practice and get an idea, and then we’ll just kind of have to listen to his feedback where he’s at,” head coach Matt Nagy said. “We told him, communication is imperative here. It’s not like being able to plug somebody in on a Madden game and just say, ‘Go sack the quarterback.’ There’s some planning that goes [into it].
“We’ll see where he’s at, and hopefully he’s able to go out there and play well, but it will be more of a day-by-day thing than anything.”
With Mack on board, Chicago’s defense looks loaded–at least on paper, that is. The unit also boasts lineman Akiem Hick, end Leonard Floyd, cornerback Prince Amukamara, nose tackle Eddie Goldman, and inside linebackers Danny Trevathan and Roquan Smith. The latter was the Bears’ first-round draft pick this spring.
Change is gonna come
Rodgers was lost for the season to a broken in Week 6 of the 2017 campaign. Green Bay started 4-1 and then lost eight of its next 11 games, finishing 7-9 and missing the playoffs (eliminated before even getting to Week 16). It marked the franchise’s first losing season since 2008. Now the Packers head into 2018 on the heels of drastic organizational turnover. They promoted Brian Gutekunst to general manager to take over for Ted Thompson, Mike Pettine was hired as defensive coordinator replacing Dom Capers, and Joe Philbin is back as offensive coordinator. Position coaches have changed all over the place.
“This is the most change we’ve had really since our first year in ’06,” head coach Mike McCarthy noted. “It brings a new level of energy, it brings a different message from different voices. It gives you a whole new sense of urgency. It’s just a whole different presentation.
“Change gives you an opportunity for energy and it’s really how you utilize it that is important. I think our guys, players and coaches, have done a great job. You’ve really got to make sure you break everything down after the season is over and start it as a new opportunity. I’ve never gone, ‘Hey, we’re going to be fine because we did this last year.’ I think that is where you get your ass in trouble. When you have this much change, it really makes you start over, because we didn’t just change personnel. We have a new defensive system; we have a lot of new things offensively.”
The Green Bay Packers are:
- 8-3 ATS in their last 11 Week 1 games
- 8-3 ATS in their last 11 September games
- 7-3 Under in their last 10 home games against Chicago
The Chicago Bears are:
- 5-11 ATS in their last 16 road games
- 1-5-1 ATS in their last seven games against the NFC
- 2-9 ATS in their last 11 September game