A century ago, the Chicago Bears and Green Bay Packers helped construct the foundation of the beast the NFL is today. It’s fitting they act as the harbingers of the next century of professional football. (An incredibly generous assessment to say “century,” no doubt.)
The 199th meeting in the oldest NFL rivalry happens to be the first game of the 100th NFL season. In front of a national television audience on Thursday night, the Bears and Packers will not only work to politely iron out the issues of their mutual tangled past, they will write the unofficial prologue to a new era of professional football.
For the first time in years, the Bears possess the on-paper advantage in most areas over their natural foil. Matt Nagy is the reigning Coach of the Year while newcomer Matt LaFleur attempts to push Green Bay back into relevancy. On offense, a versatile Bears group has the esteemed pleasure of continuity as they enter the second year of Nagy’s offensive scheme, and on the other side LaFleur contends with the teaching of his completely fresh principles to an entire unit. And last but not least, Chicago possesses the NFL’s reigning premier defense, headlined by Khalil Mack, as the Packers struggle to find a more consistent pass rush.
As was often the case earlier in this decade, Green Bay is counting on two-time MVP Aaron Rodgers to be their trump card over Chicago. The distinct difference the Bears are leaning on is that the rest of their roster presents more of a weighty challenge to hem in Rodgers than recent iterations. Only time can offer a definitive conclusion to these two hedged bets.
Here are Windy City Gridiron’s staff picks for the 2019 NFL season opener between the Bears and Packers at Soldier Field.
Robert Zeglinski: Bears 31, Packers 20
The Packers could become a playoff contender by the end of the 2019 season. They won’t show it in the first week against a Super Bowl contender on the road.
Lester A. Wiltfong Jr: Bears 31, Packers 13
The new offense for the Packers will find it tough to move the ball against the “new” defense for the Bears. Chicago’s offense makes a statement.
Aaron Leming: Bears 31, Packers 24
Week 1 is always a crap shoot, as evidenced by the Packers beating Chicago in a strange comeback last year. That’s how I say anything could happen, but I believe the Bears are a Super Bowl contender who starts paving the way with a big win in the home opener.
Steven Schweickert: Bears 27, Packers 17
The Packers offense sputters in their first game under LaFleur, the Bears defense starts smooth, and the Bears’ offense makes at least one big play that they wouldn’t have made last season.
Jacob Infante: Bears 24, Packers 19
The Packers did a great job of adding talent over the off-season and finally fired Mike McCarthy. As was the case with the Bears last season, though, their new regime fails to take home a Week 1 win on the road.
Josh Sunderbruch: Bears 27, Packers 24
The score is closer than the game, with the Bears opening an early lead and then letting the Packers back in. This time, the Bears close the door and the Packers grind out a garbage-time touchdown that makes fans nervous.
Sam Householder: Bears 24, Packers 20
There isn’t a ton of film on the Packers’ new offense, but I think the Bears’ experience and desire to put a stamp on their 100th season kickoff puts them over the top. Rodgers comes up short with a chance at a game-winning drive thanks to Khalil Mack.
Erik Duerrwaechter: Bears 31 Packers 13
The Bears’ offense will finally unveil their new looks as they attack an already softened Packers defense. Meanwhile, the Bears’ defense feasts on an offense only beginning to learn its playbook.
Patti Curl: Bears 52, Packers 12
Each team’s score reflects the number of its biggest star and everyone goes home happy.
Ken Mitchell: Bears 34, Packers 0
The Chicago defense dominates a Green Bay offense that has yet to actually take the field in its present form. New offense, new terminology, a quarterback without a single live snap in a new scheme and oh yeah, Khalil Mack and friends standing unopposed.
WhiskeyRanger: Bears 30, Packers 17
The Bears start quick, and while Rodgers is able to improvise his way into keep it close early, his inability to trust his head coach leads to a disorganized game plan. There’s a 50-50 shot a blow up happens on the sidelines between Rodgers and LaFleur.
Kev: Bears 28, Packers 17
It would be 31-17, but Eddy Pineiro shanks one bad. The Packers offense struggles to find a rhythm early and a route miscommunication leads to an Eddie Jackson pick-six.
Robert Schmitz: Bears 31, Packers 13
After last year’s embarrassing finish, the revenge-minded Bears prove to be too much for a Packer team in search of its identity. Offense proves to be efficient and effective while the defense turns in a sterling performance.
Jack Silverstein: Bears 33, Packers 6
The Pineiro Game! Easy Eddy goes 4-for-4 on field goals including a franchise record 59-yarder as time expires in the first half. His three PATs cap our three TDs: a 7-yard run by David Montgomery, a 34-yard TD from Money Mitch to Allen Robinson, and a 51-yard pick-six for Kyle Fuller.
Robert appreciates the NFL’s optimism in believing there will be another century of organized American football. The Roman gladiators of old surely believed they too would lose their appendages and general physical well-being in the Coliseum for years on end.
WCG Contributors: Jeff Berckes; Patti Curl; Eric Christopher Duerrwaechter; Kev H; Sam Householder; Jacob Infante; Aaron Lemming; Ken Mitchell; Steven Schweickert; Jack Silverstein; EJ Snyder; Lester Wiltfong, Jr.; Whiskey Ranger; Robert Schmitz; Robert Zeglinski; Like us on Facebook.