Posted on September 5, 2018, by Travis Pulver
There are a lot of great rivalries in the NFL. But none of them have the history that the Chicago Bears and Green Bay Packers have. When the two long-time rivals face off on Sunday Night Football, it will be their 197th meeting (regular season and playoffs). Green Bay has won the last four and is favored to win again.
But it would be foolish to count the Bears out—especially after the trade they just pulled off.
Of course, it would be unrealistic to expect Khalil Mack to have much of an impact when he just joined the team. If he had been practicing with the Raiders and in game shape, it would be easier to see. But he’s been holding out and working out on his own. It wouldn’t be shocking if he didn’t play at all.
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However, the team has already said they are going to try to get Mack on the field. That news can’t be making Packers QB Aaron Rodgers very happy—but in the end, will Mack matter?
It will not happen right off the bat, but the Bears are now poised to have one of the fiercest sets of linebackers in the NFL. Shortly after making the trade for Mack, they made him an insanely rich man signing him to a six-year, $141 million deal with $90 million in guarantees and $60 million due at signing.
He’ll be joining last year’s No. 8 pick, former Georgia linebacker, Roquan Smith, and the No. 9 pick from the 2016 draft, Leonard Floyd.
Sunday night, the trio will probably not see too much time on the field together. But the Bears defense was already good without Mack. The question for Bears fans will be if Mitchell Trubisky and the offense can step up.
Trubisky’s stats were not mind-blowing last season, but neither were the weapons he had to work with. But this season, that is not the case. They added receivers Allen Robinson and Taylor Gabriel in free agency along with tight end Trey Burton. If Kevin White can start living up to his pre-draft hype finally, the Bears could have a dangerous trio of receivers.
Jordan Howard and Tarik Cohen will give the team a dependable running game. So, if Trubisky can take a step forward and Mack can make half the impact the Bears hope he’ll make, the Packers and the rest of the NFL may want to watch out.
Green Bay Packers
While most of the NFL has been patting Khalil Mack on the back for getting paid, Packers QB Aaron Rodgers has been privately scoffing at Mack’s payday—because he got one that’s even better. He recently signed a four-year extension valued at $134 million with the potential to hit $180 million (depending on incentives).
Rodgers doesn’t need to prove he’s worth it. But it sure would be nice if he did in the first game he’ll play since signing the deal.
With the tools at his disposal, there is no reason to think he can’t. Jordy Nelson is gone, but he still has a talented group to work with. Davante Adams is one of the better young receivers in the league. With Nelson gone, Randall Cobb will probably have a bigger role. Rodgers will likely make use of his newest weapon, tight end Jimmy Graham early and often.
It would help if the Packers could establish a running game. But that is unlikely against the Bears with running back Aaron Jones suspended. The team will rely on Jamaal Williams and Ty Montgomery to do what they can. But expectations should be limited.
So—who’s going to win?
The Bears have the weapons to get the job done on offense; it all depends on whether Trubisky can take the next step, though. If he can, the Packers are not a particularly strong defensive team. He could put up some serious points. But can the Bears slow down Aaron Rodgers enough to win the game?
If Mack and Smith had been practicing with the team throughout training camp, it would be easier to say ‘yes.’ But they haven’t been. The Bears defense is primed for greatness, but they need time for everyone to get on the same page.
That will not happen in Week One.
The Prediction: Look for the Packers to win but fail to cover the spread (-7.5).