NFL Week 1 Betting – Can Bears Get Statement W Over Pack?
Zack GarrisonNo comments
I won’t leave you hanging. The answer to the question in the headline is a resounding “No.”
Green Bay QB Aaron Rodgers has dominated the Chicago Bears throughout his career, and there’s no reason to think things will be different this year, as the Packers enter the season with arguably their deepest team in years. We’ll get our first taste of just how deep the Packers are when they visit their longtime rival at Soldier Field on Sunday, Sep. 13 (1:00 PM Eastern).
Rodgers is 11-3, career, against the Bears with 31 touchdowns and just eight interceptions. Despite losing star receiver Jordy Nelson for the year to a knee injury, the betting public remains confident that Rodgers and company will continue to carve up the Bears. Green Bay opened as a decent sized road favorite at -3.5, but that has since ballooned to nearly a touchdown.
Apparently everyone and their wedge of cheese expects Green Bay to dominate the Bears in much the same fashion as last season when Rodgers tossed ten touchdowns and no picks in two decisive wins (38-17 in Chicago and 55-14 in Green Bay).
Rodgers was particularly good – even by his standards – against the Bears at Lambeau, throwing for six majors in the first half.
Though he won’t have Nelson to rely on this season, Rodgers will have a familiar face back in the lineup in the form of WR James Jones.
The Bears, meanwhile, are done with the Marc Trestman experiment, having parted ways with the first-time head coach and brought in regular-season cavant John Fox. They also hired Vic Fangio as the defensive coordinator. It’s the latter hiring that makes the Week 1 matchup a little more enticing than the huge spread would suggest. Vangio, who was previously on the 49ers’ staff, is 4-0 in his career against Rodgers.
Rodgers recognizes that the additions and Fox and Fangio will bring a new look to a defense he’s heretofore had his way with.
“They’re very well-coached, obviously,” Rodgers said of Fangio-coached teams to the Chicago Sun-Times. “Scheme: recognize, disguise. He’s always had a lot of moving pieces, but they always seem to be very well-prepared.”
The Bears have plenty of question marks on offense. QB Jay Cutler is 1-10 against the Packers in his career, throwing 14 touchdowns and a disheartening 21 picks. Early offseason reports indicated that the franchise wanted to part ways with the QB, but Cutler’s bloated contract – and sub-par play – killed any interest.
On the injury front, Chicago WR Alshon Jeffery is dealing with a calf injury. He should suit up, but may not be at full speed. Any limitations on Jeffery will be a significant blow to the Chicago offense; he’s now the top target for Cutler after the team dealt Brandon Marshall to the Jets in the summer.
Fox is playing coy on the seriousness of Jeffery’s injury, not wanting to give anything away that could potentially help his opponent.
“Same thing I’ve been saying for a long time,” coach John Fox told the Chicago Sun-Times. “From a competitive standpoint, we’re going to probably say about as little as we can — just because we don’t really want to help our opponent. So understanding that is important for everybody.”
The safest way for the Bears to contain Rodgers on Sunday will be to keep him on the sideline. Luckily for the team, running back Matt Forte is hale and healthy. Forte is in search of his sixth career 1,000-yard rushing season (and fourth straight). But a good running game, alone, may not be enough to keep this one close. The trends certainly say otherwise.
The Bears are 2-5 ATS in their last seven games as an underdog, 1-7 ATS in their last eight games as a home underdog, 7-18-1 ATS in their last 26 home games, overall, and 4-11 ATS in their last 15 against division foes. The Packers, on the other hand, are 10-4-1 ATS in their last 15 as a favorite, 6-2 ATS in their last eight games as a road favorite, and 38-17 ATS in their last 55 within the NFC North.
Forget about the fact that they’re on the road; Rodgers and the Packers have made Soldier Field a second home over the years and they should dominate this game from start to finish.
Pick: Packers -6.5.