One may not have to go back to the hallowed names of Lombardi and Halas to see why the Green Bay Packers-Chicago Bears rivalry is the most celebrated in NFL history. Nearly one year removed from Aaron Rodgers' memorable performance in the Packers' stirring comeback win over the Bears, the NFC North rivals kick off the league's 100th season Thursday night at Soldier Field in Chicago.
Rodgers overcame an early knee injury to throw three touchdown passes in the second half as Green Bay rallied from a 20-point deficit to post a 24-23 victory Sept 9. The two-time NFL Most Valuable Player's heroics were enough to win that game, but the Packers were forced to watch the division champion Bears in the playoffs after the latter joined Houston as the lone NFL teams to complete a "worst-to-first" turnaround in 2018. While Thursday's game marks the first regular-season tilt for Matt LaFleur as Green Bay's coach, Chicago's Matt Nagy returns for his second with new defensive coordinator Chuck Pagano inheriting a unit that led the league in fewest points allowed (17.7 per game), takeaways (36), interceptions (27) and fewest rushing yards (80.0 per game). Former NFL Defensive Player of the Year Khalil Mack reached double digits in sacks for the third straight year in 2018 with a team-leading 12.5 while Kyle Fuller tied for the league lead with seven interceptions.
TV: 8:20 p.m. ET, NBC. LINE: Bears -3. O/U: 46.5
ABOUT THE PACKERS (2018: 6-9-1, 3RD IN NFC NORTH): LaFleur will unveil a new offensive scheme when he walks the sideline in place of Mike McCarthy, who reportedly had a contentious relationship with Rodgers. The 35-year-old quarterback's most trusted target Davante Adams is looking to build off a career season in which he reeled in 111 receptions for 1,386 yards while finishing tied for second in the league with 13 touchdowns. Running back Aaron Jones enjoyed a brilliant seven-game stretch in which he totaled eight scores (seven rushing, one receiving) before a knee injury ended his season in a 24-17 loss to Chicago in Week 15.
ABOUT THE BEARS (2018: 12-4, 1ST IN NFC NORTH): Mitchell Trubisky overcame three lackluster games to begin the 2018 season - including one at Green Bay - to guide Chicago to its first division title since 2010. The 25-year-old likely will lean on Allen Robinson, who led the team in targets (94) and receiving yards (754) - just ahead of running back Tarik Cohen. The electric Cohen likely will see a reduction in touches out of the backfield despite amassing 1,169 scrimmage yards (725 receiving, 444 rushing) and eight touchdowns (five receiving, three rushing) in favor of third-round draft pick David Montgomery, who is expected to take on a significant role in place of the departed Jordan Howard (Philadelphia).
1. Chicago K Eddy Pineiro, who made 11 of 13 kicks in the preseason, will be tasked with helping the team - and its fans - work its way past Cody Parkey's missed field goal that cost the club in the playoffs last year.
2. Packers S Adrian Amos and S Ha Ha Clinton Dix (Bears) will make their season debuts against their respective former teams.
3. Chicago TE Trey Burton (groin strain) will be a game-time decision for Thursday's contests, per Nagy.
News Breaking News
Key Players to Watch
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- HamstringQues Sun | questionable
McMais exited the previous game due to hamstring injury, and it is unknown if he will face the Colts on Sunday.
- KneeI-R | I-R
Cohen has been moved to the injured reserve list with a torn ACL in his right knee.
- ThumbOut indefinitely | I-R
Jenkins has hit the injured reserve list due to a torn ligament in his thumb, and he will miss an undetermined length of time.
- AnkleProb Sun | probable
Quinn is expected to face the Falcons on Sunday despite an ankle injury.
- KneeProb Sun | probable
Mack is dealing with a knee injury, but it is projected that he will suit up against the Falcons on Sunday.
- PersonalProb Sun | probable
Woods sat out the last game due to a personal matter. He is likely to rejoin the team Sunday against the Falcons.
- KneeProb Sun | probable
Spriggs sat out the last game due to a knee injury, but he is projected to be in the lineup Sunday versus the Giants.
- Neckday-to-day | questionable
Montgomery departed Sunday's game due to a neck injury, and it is unknown if he will return.
Green Bay Packers
- GroinQues Mon | questionable
Ramsey has been unavailable for the past three games due to a groin injury, and it is unclear if he will make his season debut Monday versus the Falcons.
- ShoulderQues Mon | questionable
Kirksey left the previous game due to a right shoulder injury, and it is undetermined if he will be a participant in Monday's contest versus the Falcons.
- GroinQues Mon | questionable
Clark has missed the last two games with a groin injury, and it is unknown if he will line up against the Falcons on Monday.
- AnkleQues Mon | questionable
Gary injured his ankle in the last game, and it is uncertain if he will play Monday against the Falcons.
- HamstringQues Mon | questionable
Adams was held out of the previous game with a hamstring injury, and his status for Monday's matchup versus the Falcons is hazy.
- ShinQues Mon | questionable
Deguara has sat out the previous two games with injuries to his shin and ankle. It is uncertain if he will return Monday against the Falcons.
- BackQues Sun | questionable
Jenkins is managing injuries to his back and ribs, and his status for Sunday's game against the Saints remains unclear.
- ToeProb Sun | probable
Adams has a toe injury, but he is projected to play against the Saints on Sunday.