The 2015 NFL season is finally here. And for the Chicago Bears there is no better way to start the season than to host their biggest rival Green Bay Packers at Soldier field. The Packers are still favored by 6 ½ even though they are on the road. The over/under is set at 49 points which makes it one of the highest scoring games of the week. There are questions on both offense and defense going into the opener.
When Bears have the ball:
Just like the Vegas line projects, there will be plenty of touchdowns in this game. The Bears and Jay Cutler will need to forget that his record against the Packers is just 1-11 lifetime and in those games he has thrown 22 interceptions.
Cutler knows this saying, “I mean, every year you start over. This year we’ve got a whole new group. We’ve got a lot of young guys; we’ve got a lot of new guys that don’t understand. They haven’t been in the rivalry as long as me and Matt Forte and Robbie Gould and some other guys. We’ll catch them up and we’re just going to treat it like we did the first game last year.”
The top three Bear wide receivers on the active roster are all questionable going into Sunday’s matchup. This includes Pro Bowler Alshon Jeffery, Eddie Royal and Marquess Wilson. On a positive note head coach John Fox says he is optimistic about all three wide receivers.
Even if all three wide receivers play, the Bears will still rely on their running game lead by Matt Forte. Forte has been successful against the Packers in the past both in the run game and through the air. I expect Forte to be the main weapon that offensive coordinator Adam Gase will be going to against Green Bay’s defense.
Another key to the offense will be tight end Martellus Bennett. If Gase can find ways to use him like he did Julius Thomas in Denver then the Bears will be able to move the ball down the field and Bennett has always been a red zone threat. The Bears’ first team offense did not score a single touchdown in the preseason, but look for that to change on Sunday with Forte and Bennett having solid games each.
When Packers have the ball:
Aaron Rodgers has been used to the Bears defensive strategy of “bend but don’t break” his entire career. This year will be different as defensive coordinator Vic Fangio has switched them to a 3-4 defense. The Bears defense has been in need of a change for a while due to ageing players and draft pick misses.
The Packers will be without their number one wide receiver Jordy Nelson as he tore his ACL in the preseason. But, the Bears secondary will still have their hands full with Randall Cobb and Davante Adams. If that is not enough to worry about, James Jones, has re-joined the Packers which will provide Rodgers his old deep threat.
There Bears will be without a key player on the defensive line in nose tackle Jeremiah Ratliff after being suspended for the first three games of the season. This means Eddie Lacy should have a great game. He is projected to be one of the top running back performers in week 1. The Bears will count on rookie nose tackle Eddie Goldman to fill in for Ratliff. He was a two year starter at Florida State and declared for the NFL after his junior year. Goldman has shown flashes of his potential in the preseason getting praises from both coaches and teammates.