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NFL Free Pick: Bears vs Packers

September 9, 2018

Sunday Night Football kicks off in Week 1 of the NFL regular season with the oldest rivalry in football when the Green Bay Packers host the Chicago Bears at Lambeau Field in an NFC North showdown.

Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers missed nine games last season with a broken collarbone and the Packers finished 7-9. Rodgers is 100% recovered from that injury and will lead his Packers against a Bears team whose defense has been dramatically improved after trading for Khalil Mack.

The current line on top sportsbooks has Green Bay (-7) favored with the over/under total on 47.5.

Chicago was just 5-11 last season but with the addition of Mack, who has posted 10 or more sacks in each of the last three seasons, players and fans are optimistic in the Windy City.

The Bears took Roquan Smith with the No. 8 pick overall in the draft out of Georgia to shore up their linebacker corps. Last season the Bears were No. 7 in the NFL against the pass and the additions of Mack and Smith could make them a top five overall defense in 2018.

Mack is a pass rushing specialist with a combined 36.5 sacks in the past three seasons.

Offensively, quarterback Mitchell Trubisky returns for his second season after throwing for 2,192 yards and seven touchdowns over 12 games in his rookie year with the Bears. Allen Robinson and Taylor Gabriel will be Trubisky’s top wide receivers and Trey Burton is the new tight end. Jordan Howard returns at running back and has rushed for 1,100 or more yards in each of his two seasons in the NFL.

Green Bay’s Rodgers no longer has Jordy Nelson at wide receiver but Randall Cobb and Davante Adams combined to make 140 receptions last season. Tight End Jimmy Graham was acquired and he caught 10 receptions for touchdowns last season with Seattle.

In his past four starts at home against the Bears, Rodgers has thrown 14 touchdowns and one interception.

Jamaal Williams led the running game last season with 556 yards and will share snaps with Ty Montgomery, until Aaron Jones returns from a two-game suspension.

The defense remains a work in progress but a new defensive coordinator in Mike Pettine should help lift the unit from No. 22 in total defense and No. 26 in points allowed in 2017.

Green Bay is 4-0 over its last 4 games head to head with Chicago.

Prediction: It may be too early to see the true value Mack and Smith bring to the Bears defense, but Rodgers’ true value to the Packers will be evident as he will lead them to victory via an aerial assault on the Bears defense. Packers win 27-17

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