It should be such a wonderful feeling. The Packers have a game on Sunday. The Green Bay Packers have a football game that counts coming up this very sunday. This season as with 2013 (Bulaga) and 2014 (Raji), the Packers have been unable to make it to the regular season without losing a key starter to injury. Wide receiver Jordy Neson was lost for the year with a torn ACL suffered in the second preseason game against the Steelers. In a season in which the Packers are the Super Bowl favorites there is still a feeling of “yeah, but…”.
Well SHAKE THAT FEELING PACKERS FANS! There’s still a lot to be excited about this upcoming season. Aaron Rodgers is the reigning MVP, he’s fully healthy and so far as I can tell he’s still the team’s quarterback. Jordy Nelson may be gone, but Davante Adams, Randall Cobb and James Jones are all top 100 Ted Thompson picks that Aaron Rodgers trusts. The entire offensive line is back and Richard Rodgers is yet another top 100 pick that has time in with Aaron Rodgers.
As seems to be a yearly occasion, the Packers poured their early picks in on defense. The only true starter that the Packers lost on defense was cornerback Tramon Williams. The additions to the defense were many. 1st round pick Damarious Randall seems to have the trust of the coaching staff, but to the untrained eye had somewhat of an uneven preseason. The same could be said for second round pick Quentin Rollins. Rollins made plays against the Patriots and then failed to flash for the rest of the preseason. Jake Ryan was also added to try and shore up the middle of the defense.
Why the Packers Will Win: they are better. The Bears allowed 93 points to the Packers in 2014, and though the Packers are without Nelson, they aren’t much worse on offense. The Bears haven’t gotten much better on defense either. Though the Bears did add one of my favorite underrated players, Pernell McPhee, they’re still not very talented and going through a scheme change. I actually think they might be worse against the run than they were a season ago. The continuity of the interior of the Packers offensive line and Richard Rodgers’ hopeful improvement as a run blocker could really open lanes for Lacy and Starks.
The Bears offense has taken a step back as well. Brandon Marshall is gone and the Bears offensive line still isn’t very good. I’m thinking at this point that Alshon Jeffrey is going to play on Sunday but at best he’s going to be rusty, at worst he’s going to be dinged up. The addition of Mike Pennel, Clay Matthews and BJ Raji to the middle of the defense should help limit Matt Forte more than he was in Soldier Field a year ago. I think the Packers defense might take a moment to gel, but ultimately it should be enough to stave off the Jay Cutler express.
Why the Bears Will Win: They’re at home. Nelson’s hurt. The Packers haven’t seen the schemes from this new coaching staff. That’s about it. Chicago’s just not very good.
Bottom line: Packers fans seem to be torn between a few things this weekend. We want to be excited about the first game of the season. We want to be excited about Bears week. At the same time it’s tough to get up for the season so soon after losing a beloved player like Jordy Nelson. It’s also tough to focus on this Bears game with a home game against Seattle on national television going on the following week.
At this point, the Packers are so much better than the Bears that the game almost seems lose-lose. If the Packers don’t win by a lot there will be questions. If they don’t win at all it will seem like a complete disaster. Packer fans are used to slow starts, starting out 1-2 during each of the last three seasons, including losing 3 straight season openers. It’s time for a change.
The reality is, though, that the Packers are just that much better. I don’t think the Bears can do anything to stop Green Bay offensively. As soon as the Packers have the Chicago crowd out of the game, the slaughter could be “on”. After the defense gets off to a rocky start they too turn it on, and Green Bay wins big. Packers 41, Bears 20.