Our NFL handicapper thinks the mismatch between these two squads could create an offensive explosion. Read on as he breaks down the game and makes his NFL pick!
We have an NFC North clash at Soldier Field on Week 1 when the Chicago Bears host the Green Bay Packers in a matchup that hasn’t been competitive of late. Green Bay is 9-1 SU and 8-2 ATS in the last ten meetings between these two teams, although this has come in a run of unbridled success at the hands of Green Bay uber-QB, Aaron Rodgers. That success ended with quite a hiccup last year, as the Packers had their Super Bowl hopes squandered in the NFC Championship game by a series of blunders, including a gaffe on an onside kick that cost Special Teams coach, Shawn Slocum, his job.
Chicago is in rebuilding mode under new head coach, John Fox, as well as a bevy of other new coordinators on offense and defense. As compared to last year, this should bring a more balanced approach on offense, which might lead Jay Cutler to make fewer mistakes in handling the ball. Statistically speaking, Cutler had highs in quite a few offensive categories last year, so he is capable when protecting the football. However, he was forced to throw quite often as the Bears found themselves playing from behind in 2014 more often than not.
Green Bay hopes to continue their success on offense from 2014, where they were #1 in the NFL with an average of 30.4 PPG. Hampering this is the loss of standout WR, Jordy Nelson, for the season. Additionally, Packers WR Randall Cobb is listed as questionable but should play with a banged up shoulder. But really, the offense of the Green Bay Packers begins and ends with Aaron Rodgers who hasn’t lost a step coming into this season. When you have the best QB in the league, the rest comes along just a little bit easier.
In the complete opposite position, the Chicago Bears try to improve on a 31st ranked 27.6 PPG given up on defense in 2014. This included getting 55 points hung on them in their last game against the Packers at Lambeau Field. To bolster the defense the Bears drafted NT Eddie Goldman in the 2nd round of the draft over the spring. Goldman will be thrown in the fire in the first game of the season against the mobile Rodgers, who is as mobile a quarterback there is in the NFL. Getting pressure on the quarterback will be tantamount if the Bears are too give their challenged secondary a chance.
Green Bay’s defense is anchored by fat head, Clay Matthews, who’s move to the inside linebacker position halfway through last year paid immediate dividends in defending the run game. The Packers aren’t without their question marks; however, as they have three rookies that could see significant time in their nickel and dime packages. Safety Damarious Randall is the first round pick from this year’s draft, so he should be seeing the field quite often.
The Packers are rightfully favored in this one by 7, and rightfully so. But given the mismatch between the strengths of these two squads it is really hard not to focus on the O/U total, which currently sits at 49 points on the NFL odds board. I love this as a straight up wager, and I’d also consider teasing this 49 points down to 42-43 as part of a larger play. With the weather and turf not a factor yet at Soldier Field the Packer offense should have a heyday. Take over 49 points as part of your Week 1 NFL picks.
NFL Pick: Over 49 at Bovada