NFL 2019 (Week 1): Green Bay Packers at Chicago Bears
By Jesse Pierson
Special to Pro Football Guru
The preseason is over, college football has whetted our collective appetite, and now NFL football is finally back! What better way to kick things off than with the league’s oldest and perhaps most ferocious rivalry? The Green Bay Packers visit the Chicago Bears on Thursday night, launching the 2019 NFL season into full swing. Let’s examine some pivotal elements of the game.
Packers: Green Bay moved on from Mike McCarthy after 13 mostly-successful seasons, including a Super Bowl title in 2010. McCarthy’s Packers won seven NFC North titles, but the last two years stagnated, culminating in his December dismissal. Matt LaFleur takes over and the hope is that his offensive scheme will reignite Aaron Rodgers’ golden arm. Rodgers was less than subtle about his displeasure with Green Bay’s joint practices with the Houston Texans during training camp, causing some to wonder if the honeymoon between coach and quarterback is over before it began. But, as the old adage goes: “Winning cures all ills.”
Bears: Chicago rolled to a division championship last year, unleashing Khalil Mack and a stifling defense that led the league in points allowed per game (17.7). Matt Nagy won NFL Coach of the Year honors, and second-year quarterback Mitchell Trubisky took a big jump in his performance to boot. Defensive coordinator Vic Fangio earned a head coaching position in Denver, and his presence will be roundly missed in the Windy City. Chuck Pagano steps in with some huge shoes to fill, although Mack, Akiem Hicks and Roquan Smith are a nice starting point. Cody Parkey’s game-winning field goal attempt was partially blocked and “double doinked” off of the left upright, swiftly ending a once-promising season in the NFC Wild Card loss to Philadelphia. The kick heard ‘round the world brought Parkey’s tenure as a Bear to an end, and Eddy Pineiro beat out eight other kickers for the job...at least for now.
Analysis: Expect Chicago’s home crowd to be fired up and ready to wash the months-long bitter taste out of their mouths. Both teams have high hopes for the season, and beating a rival is the ideal way to appease a raucous fan base. Green Bay intends to validate their coaching choice in LaFleur, while Chicago aims to prove that last year’s success was no fluke. The Packers are dealing with several key injuries, particularly to defensive starters Oren Burks and Kevin King. The Bears are eager to show off their new running back, David Montgomery, who many pundits believe could contend for Offensive Rookie of the Year. This has all the makings of a barn-burner.
Prediction: Rodgers and LaFleur come out firing, taking an early lead against Chicago’s uber-talented pass rush. However, the lack of depth and talent on Green Bay’s defense allow Trubisky and Co. to come roaring back and pull away late.
Chicago Bears 27, Green Bay Packers 17
Jesse Pierson (@jessetpierson) is a former teacher and high school football coach who has written about the Colts for over a decade. He loves football, dogs, food, and comedy, and you can follow his work on his Facebook page, Jesse Pierson, Mediocre Writer.