The 100th season of NFL football will be getting underway Thursday in Chicago. The game will feature a classic rivalry, with the defending NFC North champion, Bears hosting the Green Bay Packers.
Packers Offense vs. Bears Defense
Last season when this was the matchup the Bears front was able to give the Packers issues. Everyone remembers Khalil Mack and his amazing performance in week one, but after reviewing the film of that game, Akiem Hicks was great as well.
When it comes to dealing with the pass rush, Green Bay is better equipped to handle Mack. Nobody is generally able to block him one on one, but David Bakhtiari is as good as anyone at left tackle. However, in the middle, Green Bay was weaker. Billy Turner was not good, and while Corey Linsley was good at center, the inside of the line is just not as good as the tackles.
On the outside, expect Green Bay to use a lot of three-receiver sets. Davante Adams gave Chicago plenty of issues last season in both meetings. Also, in the slot, Geronimo Allison could give Buster Skrine a lot of problems. That would help cancel out what should be the Bears corners being able to limit Marquez Valdes-Scantling. Those formations would also take a linebacker off the field, making getting the running game going with Aaron Jones a little easier.
The biggest thing though will be safety play. Eddie Jackson and Ha Ha Clinton-Dix are as good of a safety duo as anyone. If Kyle Fuller and Prince Amukamara can do a good job on the outside, expect Chicago to drop a safety in the box. If not, those two are also good against the pass when it comes to limiting downfield throws.
Bears Offense vs. Packers Defense
Expect more balance in personnel out of the Bears. The outlook from both one tight end sets and two tight ends sets is pretty similar. However, a lot will depend on how much Anthony Miller has developed. Tramon Williams is a capable cornerback in the slot, and with Miller likely lining up in the slot mostly, that will be a matchup plenty in this one.
Make no mistake though, the key will be how well the Packers defend the run and how well the Bears establish the run. Chicago wants to run the ball. Jordan Howard is gone, but Tarik Cohen is still in the fold and they drafted David Montgomery.
The offensive line can really get after it in run blocking, but the Packers have Kenny Clark up the middle, to go with Blake Martinez at linebacker. That’s not to mention the addition of Adrian Amos this offseason, who is very good in run support.
With all of that being said, Trey Burton is dealing with a groin injury. If he is unable to give it a go, expect mostly three or four-wide receiver sets, and for the running backs to get really involved in the passing game.
The kicking game has the potential to be ugly. Chicago has had as messy of a kicking situation as possible. On the other side, Mason Crosby has had moments of being spotty the past couple of seasons.
It’s fair to say each fan base and coaching staff would take it if they don’t miss any extra points or field goals.