The Chicago Bears are set to host the 4-time defending NFC North Champion Green Bay Packers in Week 1 of the 2015 regular season. Kickoff is scheduled for 1:00 EST on Sunday at Soldier Field and will be televised locally on FOX. Our Week 1 NFL odds show the Packers listed as a 7-point road favorite with the total set at 50 points.
Green Bay finished up the 2014 regular season with a 12-4 overall record and would advance to the NFC Championship Game, where they would suffer a heartbreaking 22-28 defeat at the hands of the Seattle Seahawks. As we have grown to expect, the Packers chose to focus more on re-signing their core players and not spending money on prized free-agents in the off-season.
While Green Bay looks to continue it’s dominance of the NFC North, the Bears are just hoping to be better than they were a year ago. Chicago finished last in the division at 5-11. They decided enough was enough with Marc Trestman, parting ways with their head coach after just 2 seasons. In comes John Fox, who was shown the door after failing to bring a Super Bowl to the Denver Broncos. Chicago underwent a major roster over-haul, but it doesn’t seem likely they will evolve into a serious contender in the NFC.
Early Lean on Packers -7
I’m not a fan of laying 7-points on the road, but first glance here has me leaning on the Packers minus a touchdown. I have to believe that this offseason had to feel like it lasted forever for several of the Green Bay players, who came up painfully short of making the Super Bowl the last time they took the field in a meaningful game. I look for them to take out some of that frustration on their hated rivals from Chicago, who they have owned in both meetings last year, winning 38-17 at Chicago in Week 4 and 55-14 at home in Week 10.
I know the Packers lost a big piece of their offense in wide out Jordy Nelson, who suffered a season-ending ACL injury in training camp, but Aaron Rodgers has more than enough weapons at his disposal to pick apart a Chicago defense that finished 30th against the pass a year ago and will be undergoing a major schematic change with a move from a 4-3 to 3-4. The Bears did their best to add in the right pieces for a 3-4 look, but it takes more than one offseason to finish the puzzle. Simply put, Rodgers is too good a quarterback to be slowed down by a defense that has as little talent as what Chicago will send out in Week 1.
Green Bay is 38-17 ATS in their last 55 games against other NFC North opponents, while Chicago is a mere 4-11 ATS in their last 15 division contests and 7-18-1 ATS in their last 26 home games.
At the same time, I don’t trust this Bears’ offense. It all starts with quarterback Jay Cutler, who doesn’t bring the leadership qualities that you have to have at the quarterback position. Cutler also doesn’t have the same level of talent around him. Brandon Marshall was traded away to the Jets and 1st round pick Kevin White is out indefinitely with a shin injury. Making matters worse, Alshon Jeffery is coming in at less than 100% with a calf injury, though he is expected to play.
I think there’s better options on the board than laying 7-points on a road favorite in a division game, but I just don’t see the Packers losing this game and all signs point to them winning here by double-digits. Keep in mind Green Bay is 38-17 ATS in their last 55 games against other NFC North opponents, while Chicago is a mere 4-11 ATS in their last 15 division contests and 7-18-1 ATS in their last 26 home games.
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