The Bears will face off with their eternal archrival and defending division champion in Weeks 12 and 17, traveling to Green Bay for a Sunday Night Football matchup on Thanksgiving weekend before finishing up the regular season in Chicago on January 3. That game could end up being quite significant if both teams have a shot at the playoffs. The Packers hold a slim 99-95-6 margin in the all-time series, which is the longest-running rivalry in the league.
Player to Watch
While the Packers remain Aaron Rodgers’ team, Aaron Jones burst onto the scene in a big way last season. Jones rushed for over 1,000 yards and scored 16 TD, which led the entire league. If he builds on that success and forms an even more potent backfield with Jamaal Williams, it will lessen the load on the 36-year-old Rodgers substantially, and will help Matt LaFleur improve an offense that was middle-of-the-pack last season in yards and points per game.
Additions & Subtractions
One side effect of the Jordan Love pick, and the subsequent selection of Boston College RB AJ Dillon, is that the Packers did nothing to augment their receiving corps, which lacks depth behind Pro Bowler Davante Adams. The Packers lost a couple starters in free agency, as tackle Bryan Bulaga and linebacker Blake Martinez left town for Los Angeles and New York, respectively. To help replace Martinez, Green Bay gave a 2-year deal to LB Christian Kirksey, who will try to help reinvigorate a run defense that was gashed repeatedly by the 49ers in the NFC Championship game last January.
Aaron Rodgers remains the heartbeat of this team, and continues to be an eternal thorn in the Bears’ sides. Rodgers is 19-5 in his career against Chicago, throwing for 5,806 yards, 47 TD, and a 102.1 passer rating. However, some drama has been injected into the situation, as the Packers traded up in the first round to draft QB Jordan Love out of Utah State, essentially stashing Rodgers’ eventual replacement behind him on the depth chart - much like they did 15 years ago when Rodgers was drafted to sit behind Brett Favre. How Rodgers handles the situation will be fascinating to watch as he tries to defend the NFC North crown.