The Packers will kick off the NFL’s 100th season tonight at Soldier Field against the Chicago Bears. Kick off is set 7:30 p.m. on NBC.
Here are 3 keys to the game:
The Packers need to get off to a fast start. The thing that they have going for them is the element of surprise. No one really knows the plays that Matt Lafleur is going to run or the type of head coach he will be. That makes it very difficult for teams to scout until they get several weeks of game footage. On the road, it is important to move the football and put up points early. The Packers rallied for 20 points down last season in week 1, and you can’t expect them to do that again. By getting off to a fast start, you hare putting the Bears on their heels and forcing them to throw the football more, which isn’t their strength.
Balanced Offensive Attack
When Matt Lafleur was hired he stressed the importance of the run game in his opening press conference. The Packers have a running back who can take some of the load off Aaron Rodgers in Aaron Jones. In years past the Packers offense relied heavily on Aaron Rodgers, and the team will still go as far as Rodgers will take them. But with a running back who can put up 100 yard games, hit the holes and catch passes out of the backfield, this offense will be more dynamic. To keep the Bears defense guessing, the Packers need to establish the run game and utilize it to offset the passing game. Control the clock with running the ball throughout the game will be key. That will keep the Bears talented defense off the field.
General Manager Brian Gutekunst upgraded the defense this off-season by spending a lot of money in free agency. He brought in Preston Smith, Za’Darius Smith, and Adrian Amos, as well as good defensive draft class. The second year in Mike Pettine’s system should help the team and holdover players. In order for the Packers to be successful tonight against the Bears, they are going to have to put pressure on the quarterback with their front seven. They are also going to have to tackle much better than they did during the pre-season. Granted, the starters didn’t play as much, it is key the the tackling improve all around. If this team can get pressure and force Trubisky into throwing the football before he wants to, it could generate a few turnovers. The defense is going to have to play a pivotal for the Packers to come out on top in this match up.
Prediction: Packers 24 Bears 17 – This is going to be a lot closer game. I think the Bears have more talent right now and they will be out for revenge after last seasons week 1 game. I think the score could be higher but at the end of the day, the defenses are much improved to keep this score down. I think it comes down to the quarterbacks and the Packers definitely have the upper hand. Plus, Rodgers and Lafleur don’t want to lose their first game together. Go Pack Go!
Anthony Haag is a writer for PackersTalk.com. He has been a Packers fan since the day he was born and truly bleeds green and gold. He makes annual visits to Lambeau Field and has attended his fair share of games. You can follow Anthony on Twitter at @anthony_haag