A lot is riding on the 2019 season for the Green Bay Packers.
After two dreadful years due to injury and discord, the Packers need to get it together and show that they can be a perennial contender in the NFC North once more.
Bovada has the Packers just behind the Eagles and the Bears to win the NFC this season, so they are still considered a top-five contender in the conference. But they need a strong strong start to set the pace for the season and that begins with the Thursday Night NFL Season Opener in Chicago.
The Packers head into Soldier Field on Opening Day of the 100th NFL Season to face the Bears for the 199th time in history.
Aaron Rodgers will be healthy, and if there is one thing we have seen this offseason, it’s that the franchise is trying to put more talent around Rodgers on both sides of the ball. Surprisingly, enough, most of that talent has come on the defensive side of things. There are plenty of new-additions to defense.
Over the last few years, Green Bay has ranked towards the bottom in points allowed as well as pass defense – 29th. But that looks like it is about to change – despite the departure of Clay Mathews. Za’Darius Smith came over from the Ravens, who racked up a healthy, 8.5 sacks in 2018. They also have Lowry for added depth inside. Kenny Clark will be an impact player if he can keep the injuries at bay.
On top of some added depth up front, the Packers have put some serious effort and a bit of coin into upgrading the secondary, especially at safety. It looks like their trade up to grab the Maryland star is paying off because Darnell Savage Jr. is on the roster at Strong Safety and will be trading time with Josh Jones. Then the Packers got Adrian Amos from the Bears in Free-Agency to take the No. 1 spot at Free Safety. This has been their weakest link over the last several seasons. So if they Safeties do their jobs and effectively back-up Jaire Alexander, Kevin King, and Josh Jackson covering the receivers (and of course help the LB corps) then the Packers should bring down their points-allowed stat significantly.
Nagy and the Bears
It’s Matt Nagy’s second year as coach, and we all know that this is when teams usually start to click under new leadership. I’ll just come out and say it, right now, according to projections, the Bears are the team to beat in the NFC North.
They may end up being even better on defense this season, with Mack adjusted and new additions rolling in and adapting to Nagy and Pagano. Then again, Pagano is the Bears biggest X-Factor.
One thing we do know is Mitch Trubisky is starting to shape into that Franchise QB the Bears moved up for a couple of years ago. So we should expect better offensive production from Chicago this season. That said, this is a tough division, and no one is locked in …. except for maybe the Lions, they’re surely locked into the bottom of the Division.
This is a rivalry game and a significant one, so we need to expect both teams to come out swinging, trying to set the bar for the season. 3.5 to 4 points is a lot to give in a division rivalry game like this, so I lean on Green Bay to cover that spread. Aaron Rodgers is going to come out with a chip on his shoulder. He is going to show Matt LaFleur why he needs quick, versatile play calling with plenty of time to audible and run the show from behind center, once he gets a read on the defense.
This game means a lot to both teams. It could set the tone for the entire season, so don’t blink. Don’t run to the BBQ to get more wings once the game starts, because this one is going to be a war fought down to the final seconds.