The PFW Chicago staff shares its predictions for Bears-Packers at Lambeau Field on Sunday night:
Hub Arkush: Packers 26, Bears 20
On Tuesday, the Chicago Bears were the second-biggest underdog of Week 1 of the NFL season, getting seven or seven and a half points from the Packers, and at the same time were one of the most popular upset picks on the board.
I absolutely believe the Bears are pointed in the right direction, have significantly upgraded the talent on both sides of the ball and will eventually contend with many of the players they now have.
I look at the Packers and I don’t see a team as talented as it was a year or two ago, and question how good they are at receiver, interior of the offensive line and linebacker.
Then I see Aaron Rodgers and Mitch Trubisky.
The Bears should have a great shot at the Packers in Soldier Field on December 16, but I’m not convinced they’re ready yet.
Bob LeGere: Packers 23, Bears 20
The Bears are a lot better than last year’s 5-11 team – on paper and on the field. But it’s going to take some time for those improvements to manifest themselves. QB Mitch Trubisky has a whole new cast of pass catchers, and he’s had to learn a third offense in as many seasons. The Bears’ offense will be a lot better in Week 17 than it is in the prime-time season opener.
Ditto the Bears’ defense because neither of its two biggest additions and arguably its two most impactful players – veteran OLB Khalil Mack and eighth-overall draft pick, ILB Roquan Smith – spent a day at training camp or played one snap in the preseason. The Packers were only two games better than the Bears last year, and they’ve made wholesale changes on the coaching staff. But Packers QB Aaron Rodgers is healthy after missing nine games with a fractured collarbone last year, and his presence alone makes Green Bay a playoff team.
Arthur Arkush: Packers 27, Bears 20
The Khalil Macks, err, Bears are 7.5-point underdogs headed to Lambeau, which just goes to show that not even an 11th-hour deal for a transformational player will make Vegas forget about Green Bay’s near-decade of dominance in this rivalry.
It’s quite possible I’ll pick the Bears when they host the Packers in December. For now, though, with Mack and Roquan Smith on pitch counts and Trubisky still finding his way in a new scheme with all new weaponry, I’m choosing Aaron Rodgers, the steadying force on a Packers club that's undergone arguably more change than the Bears.
Chicago keeps things close with defense, which should wreak plenty of havoc on the Packers’ plan to protect Rodgers. But I just don’t think Trubisky and Chicago's brand-new supporting cast are quite ready for this caliber of a primetime test immediately out of the gate, and Mike Pettine’s pressure defense will cause some problems of their own.
Eric Edholm: Packers 27, Bears 23
Last Bears head coach not to beat Green Bay in his first try? That would be Dave Wannstedt in 1993. No pressure, Matt Nagy! Of course, of the past four first-year Bears head coaches, the best record in Year 1 was Marc Trestman's 8-8, and he only lasted one more season in Chicago.
Nagy's personnel will be tough for Green Bay to scout thoroughly, and Bears fans could come out of this game with the feeling that they can compete pretty much every week. But stopping Aaron Rodgers, even with Khalil Mack on board, is going to be tough. I still don't know about these Bears safeties and believe they will give up some chunk plays in this game without a consistent pass rush. Also, Mitch Trubisky could be a little uneven in this one vs. an improved Packers secondary. A fun game on Sunday night, but the Bears come up a bit short.