Green Bay Packers at Chicago Bears
Soldier Field – Chicago, Illinois
Sunday, September 13, 2015, 1:00 pm Eastern, TV: Fox, NFL Sunday Ticket
Opening Line: Green Bay -5
Current Line: Green Bay -7 (-120)
Opening Total: 50
Current Total: 50
Opening Money Line: Packers -210 / Bears +175
Current Money Line: Packers -280 / Bears +230
The NFL’s oldest rivalry is renewed Sunday as the Green Bay Packers travel to the Chicago Bears in the season opener for both teams. Green Bay has won 9 of the last 11 games in the series including 38-17 and 55-14 last year. The teams have been playing since 1921 with the exception of the strike shortened 1982 season. The teams will play in Green Bay on Thanksgiving night.
Green Bay is coached by Mike McCarthy. The Packers are looking for their fifth straight NFC North title. Last year, the Packers went 12-4 in the regular season and lost in the NFC Championship game to the Seattle Seahawks. Green Bay went 2-2 in the pre-season this year.
Chicago fired coach Marc Trestman after a 5-11 season. The Bears hired John Fox who had been the head coach of the Denver Broncos. Chicago was 3-1 in the pre-season this year.
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Green Bay averaged 386 yards per game on offense including 266 passing and 120 rushing yards. The Packers were #11 or better in all three categories. Green Bay led the league in scoring at 30.4 points per game. The Packers led the league in turnover differential at +14. Green Bay allowed 346 yards per game on defense, including 226 passing and 120 rushing yards. The pass defense was #10 in the league and the rush defense was #23. The Packers allowed 21.8 points per game.
Quarterback Aaron Rodgers won his second League MVP award last year. He threw for 4,381 yards with 38 touchdowns and 5 interceptions, and also rushed for 269 yards on 43 carries with 2 touchdowns. Back-up Matt Flynn is now with the New York Jets. Former Wisconsin quarterback Scott Tolzien will likely serve as the back-up in 2015.
Running back Eddie Lacy had 246 carries for 1,139 yards and 9 touchdowns, and also had 42 catches for 427 yards and 4 touchdowns. James Starks had 85 carries for 333 yards with 2 touchdowns, and also had 18 catches for 140 yards. Besides Rodgers, no other running back had more than 24 carries. Fullback John Kuhn had 24 carries for 85 yards with a touchdown, and caught four passes.
Receiver Jordy Nelson had 98 catches for 1,519 yards and 13 touchdowns. He tore his ACL In the pre-season and is lost for the year. Randall Cobb had 91 catches for 1,287 yards with 12 touchdowns. He is probable with a shoulder injury. Davante Adams had 38 catches for 446 yards and 3 touchdowns. Tight end Andrew Quarless had 29 catches for 323 yards and 3 touchdowns. Tight end Richard Rodgers had 20 catches for 225 yards and 2 touchdowns. Besides the running backs, no other receiver had more than 4 catches last year.
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Last year, Chicago averaged 327 yards per game on offense, including 237 passing and 90 rushing yards. The Bears were #21 in total offense and #27 in rushing. Chicago was #23 in scoring at 19.9 points per game. The Bears were -5 in turnovers last year. The Chicago defense was abysmal last year. The Bears allowed 377 yards per game on defense, and only the Saints and Falcons were worse last year. Chicago allowed 264 passing yards and 113 rushing yards per game. The Bears were also #30 in pass defense. Chicago was #31 in points allowed at 27.6 points per game.
Quarterback Jay Cutler is back. Cutler threw for 3,812 yards with 28 touchdowns and 18 interceptions, and rushed for 191 yards on 39 carries with 2 touchdowns. Jimmy Clausen is the back-up but he is probable with a concussion. David Fales could serve as the back-up if Clausen isn’t cleared to play.
Matt Forte is still one of the best running backs in the league, but at 30 he is starting to decline as most running backs do at that age. He enters his contract year. Last year, he had 266 carries for 1,038 yards with 6 touchdowns, and also caught 102 passes for 808 yards and 4 touchdowns. Forte was only the second player in NFL history to rush for 1,000 yards and record 100 catches in the same season along with LaDainian Tomlinson. Ka’Deem Carey was the back-up but he only had 36 carries for 158 yards and had 5 catches. The Bears also drafted Jeremy Langford in the fourth round out of Michigan State. He will get some carries as well. Cutler was the second leading rusher. No other back had more than 6 carries with the workhorse Forte in the backfield.
Receiver Alshon Jeffery had 85 catches for 1,133 yards and 10 touchdowns. He is questionable with a calf injury. The Bears drafted Kevin White in the first round out of West Virginia. Unfortunately, White is out indefinitely with a stress fracture in his shin. He could miss the entire season. Tight end Martellus Bennett had 90 catches for 916 yards with 6 touchdowns. The Bears picked up Eddie Royal from the San Diego Chargers. Royal had 62 catches for 778 yards and 7 touchdowns for the Chargers last year. He is also questionable with a hip injury. Marquess Wilson is also questionable with a hamstring injury. A fractured collarbone in training camp kept him out of all but the last 7 games of the season last year.
The Packers are 38-17 ATS against NFC North teams, 37-17-1 on grass, and 2-6-1 in September. The favorite is 8-1 ATS in this series recently and the road team is 4-1 ATS recently. The Packers are 21-8-1 ATS against the Bears recently, including 16-5 in Chicago.
The Bears are 4-9 ATS on grass, 10-23 against NFC teams, 7-18-1 at home, and 4-11 against NFC North teams. The under is 11-4 in this series recently including 6-2 in Chicago.
Green Bay has owned the Bears recently, and I don’t see that trend ending in this game. Both teams have serious questions at wide receiver. Still, Green bay is simply a better team. I like the Pack to cover the spread in a high scoring game.