The NFL has decided to buck tradition in 2019. After regularly opening the regular season with a Thursday night Week 1 matchup involving the defending Super Bowl champions, the NFL has decided to play into history in this the 100th anniversary of the league. The Chicago Bears will host the Green Bay Packers on Thursday, September 5th in the 199th meeting between these storied rivals.
The full schedule will not be released until the middle of April, but the official announcement of this first game brings with it the first point spread of 2019! The Westgate SuperBook has installed the Bears as a 3.5-point favorite, and set the point total at 46. You can already do some early line-shopping, with FanDuel Sportsbook offering the Bears at -4. FanDuel has also installed moneyline odds, and has the Bears at -194 and the Packers at +166.
It’s already been a busy offseason for these two rivals. The Packers signed safety Adrian Amos away from the Bears. They also signed offensive guard Billy Turner and edge rushers Za’Darius Smith and Preston Smith. The Packers shook things up this year and were busy in free agency, upgrading a defense that has struggled to get one track. The big question mark is the arrival of Matt LaFleur and what he might mean for the Packers offense.
Meanwhile, the Bears replaced Amos with Ha Ha Clinton-Dix. The Bears don’t have a first round pick this year, but considering they used it to acquire Khalil Mack last year, it was well worth the loss of draft capital. The two big question marks for the Bears are how the defense performs without Vic Fangio at the helm, and whether or not Mitchell Trubisky can take a step forward in 2019.
We are a long way from the start of the season, but bettors are likely already jumping on the opening lines. If you think there’s an edge there, so be it, but betting on a line now is particularly daring. Much of free agency is finished, but there are still some quality players left to sign. More importantly, we are still a month away from the 2019 NFL Draft. The Packers have two first round picks, while the Bears don’t have a first or second round pick.
Even beyond that, we haven’t even gotten to offseason workout programs or training camp. Odds are decent one or both of these teams are going to lose a notable player to injury at some point between now and Week 1. We hope everyone remains healthy, but that’s just not how the NFL operates.
The Packers have dominated this series for much of the past decade, but last year saw Chicago take back control for the time being. The two teams faced off at Lambeau Field in Week 1 primetime and then again in Week 15. The Packers were a touchdown favorite in the opener and won a wild one 24-23 in the closing minutes. The Bears were a 5.5-point favorite in Week 15 and won 24-17 (leading by ten before a last second Packers field goal).
The Packers own the series over history, but a down year leaves them with plenty of questions heading into this primetime opener. I am optimistic about LaFleur and the Packers offense, but I also could see it taking some time to get on track. The Packers have upgraded their defense, but Trubisky now has another offseason working with Matt Nagy. I’m leaning slightly towards a Packers cover for the time being, but there’s plenty that could change the nature of this matchup between now and September 5th.