The NFL’s regular season is finally underway. No more starters on the bench, which means we get to see Aaron Rodgers actually suit up for Green Bay. He’ll be playing for new head coach Matt LaFleur for the first time. Unfortunately, Rodgers and the Packers have to play against the best defense in the league – the Bears ranked No. 1 in scoring defense in 2018 – on their home field on Thursday. Don’t worry, we can still find value.
Game: Green Bay Packers (0-0) at Chicago Bears (0-0)
When: 8:20 PM ET, Thursday, September 5, 2019
Where: Soldier Field, Chicago, Illinois
Current Line: CHI -3 Total: 46.5
TV Coverage: NBC
The Packers have owned this series against the Bearswinning eight of the last ten, including last season’s opener. The Bears will be attempting to turn the tide in the series after beating Green Bay in December. Chicago QB Mitchell Trubisky completed 70 percent of his passes for 235 yards and a pair of touchdowns in the 24-17 victory.
Rodgers battled through injuries last season and rested during the preseason, so he should be the healthiest he’s been in some time on Thursday night. He’ll have his top two receivers – Davante Adams and Geronimo Allison – and Aaron Jones in the backfield.
Green Bay will have to contend with that Bears defense though. Khalil Mack (12.5 sacks last year) and the Bears will once again be one of the top units in the NFL. In last year’s opener, Mack returned his only interception of the 2018 season for a touchdown.
But here’s the thing. The Bears are great on defense and they’re even better at home where they went 7-1 last season. The only loss was a 38-31 defeat at the hands of the eventual Super Bowl champion, New England.
The Bears were also a very sexy 12-4 ATS last season, 9-2 ATS in their last 11. They are also 5-1 ATS in their last six games at home and 7-0 ATS against NFC North Division opponents. Still, the line at -3 scares me a little.
While I think the Bears win on Thursday, I like the Under (46.5) much better. In the two games the teams played last year, the average total was 44. Rodgers will be playing in a new offense against a defense that is outstanding. The Bears led the NFL with 36 takeaways (27 INTs) last season.
Add in the fact that the Under has hit in all five of the Bears’ last five games against division opponents and the Total has gone Under in 10 of Chicago’s last 15 Week 1 games and I like the Under on Thursday night.
NFL Free Pick: Green Bay Packers at Chicago Bears UNDER 46.5
Pick by Rick
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A native of Western Pennsylvania, Rick, a Generation X-er, who now lives just north of the Motor City, Detroit, Michigan. A former high school, college, and professional football player, Rick now spends his time as a high school coach and as a personal quarterback trainer. An all-state high school quarterback, he went on to become an Academic All-American at Division II Indiana University of PA. He later coached at his alma mater helping lead the program to the 1990 NCAA Division II national championship game. Rick has also served as a high school head coach and as an assistant in Pennsylvania, New York, and Michigan.
His passion for sports writing started when he was the sports editor for his high school newspaper and continued when he worked as a sportswriter for the Jamestown (New York) Post-Journal in the early 1990s. A true sports fanatic, Rick enjoys all things Pittsburgh: Steelers, Pirates, and Penguins. The Immaculate Reception, the 1979 We Are Family Pirates, and the ’91-’92 Penguins are among his favorites. After working as an educator and athletic director for several years, he again took up sports writing and has contributed to several websites and publications, including Coach & Player magazine, X & O Labs, American Football Monthly, and many others.
When not consumed with coaching, watching, thinking about, or writing about football and other seasonal sports, he finds himself working out like he was still in college and reading everything from military history to Brad Thor novels. Rick has also been chasing rock god stardom as a drummer who has played with bands that have opened for the likes of Fuel, Days of the New, and Alien Ant Farm. He continues to play with his church worship group. Most importantly, Rick is married to the love of his life, Lisa, and has two beautiful daughters.