The 2019 NFL regular-season will officially get underway with a NFC North rivalry on Thursday, as the Chicago Bears play host to the Green Bay Packers. Kickoff is set for 8:20 EST at Soldier Field and will be televised nationally on NBC.

Oddsmakers opened up this contest with the Bears as a 4-point home favorite. That number has dropped a full point to Chicago -3. The total opened at 46 and crept up to 46.5 at most books.

Click here for a full look at the Week 1 NFL betting odds and for more links to our game previews.

NFL Betting Preview & Game Odds: Bears vs Packers

Green Bay Packers

Enough was enough. Head coach Mike McCarthy was let go before the 2018 season was even finished. Green Bay stumbled to a 6-9-1 record and 3rd place finish in the NFC North. Coming off a 7-9 record in 2017, that mars the first time since 1990-91 that the Packers suffered back-to-back losing seasons.

Losing is not an option when you have Aaron Rodgers as your starting quarterback. Matt LaFleur will be McCarthy’s replacement in 2019. LaFluer spent last year as the OC for the Titans. He didn’t exactly have Tennessee’s offense humming, as the Titans were 27th in scoring (19.4 ppg) and 25th in total offense (312.6 ypg).

For the most part the offensive core is the same, minus the loss of wide out Randall Cobb. The only new starter figures to be guard Billy Turner, who they got in FA from Denver. The big changes came on defense. Breshaud Breeland, Clay Matthews and Nick Perry are all gone. Safety Adrian Amos and linebackers Preston Smith and Za’Darius Smith are in. They also used their two first round picks on defense with Michigan’s Rashan Gary and Maryland safety Darnell Savage.

Chicago Bears

While the Packers couldn’t get out of their own way in 2018, the Chicago Bears completely flipped the script. After finishing last in the NFC North at 5-11, Chicago put an end to 4 straight losing seasons with a 12-4 record and division title.

As much positive as their is to take from improving in the win column by 7-games, the Bears season ended in a devastating 16-15 loss at home to the Eagles. Chicago’s defense couldn’t get a stop when they needed in the most, as the Eagles went 60 yards on 12 plays for the go-ahead score with 56 seasons to play. Bears got within field goal range, but the attempt was blocked and went off the upright.

I think it’s safe to say the decision to trade for Khalil Mack prior to the season paid off. Chicago’s defense allowed a league low 17.7 ppg and were 3rd in total defense (299.7). They have 4 pro bowlers on that side. They lost Amos to Green Bay, but replaced him with Ha Ha Clinton-Dix. They also let leading rusher Jordan Howard sign elsewhere. That doesn’t seem to be a concern, as the team can’t stop raving about rookie running back David Montgomery.

Matchup History

These two teams split their two meetings last year. Green Bay overcome a a 20-0 second half deficit at home to stun the Bears 24-23 in Week 1 of last year. The Bears got their revenge with a 24-17 win at home in Week 15. Packers had won 5 straight prior to Chicago’s win in Week 15 and are 8-2 in the last 10 meetings.

NFL Betting Free Pick & Predictions: Bears -3

My early lean here would be to lay the field goal with Chicago at home. I just think this is too good a price to pass up with the Bears at home. There’s a lot of really good teams in the NFC, but you could definitely make an argument for the Bears to be the team to beat.

Click on the link for more free NFL picks from our experts on staff.

I think Green Bay can sometimes get classed in the upper-tier of the NFC when they shouldn’t and that’s just simply the respect people have for Aaron Rodgers. As long as he’s healthy this team will be a contender, but winning on the road against a team like Chicago in a prime time game is asking a lot.

I get a change needed to be made, I’m just not convinced LaFleur is the answer. I mean it took this guy 3/4 the season last year to figure out that the Titans should be running their offense thru Derrick Henry. There’s also already some rumblings that LaFleur and Rodgers aren’t quite on the same page.

I also think Green Bay has done a poor job both with the offensive line and getting in the type of playmakers that can make a difference. People forget how much better Rodgers makes receivers look than they actually are. I just don’t see this offense being able to sustain drives against this Bears defense.

On the flip side of this, Green Bay’s defense doesn’t exactly wow you on paper. Packers ranked 18th in total defense and 22nd in scoring defense last year. Bears offense is better than it gets credit for. Keep in mind they installed a whole new offense just last year when they hired Nagy to be their head coach. They should be a lot more familiar with the offense and that should lead to better results. Give me the Bears -3.