Packers, Bears Continue Historic Rivalry
Kickoff at Soldier Field in Chicago is scheduled for 1:00 p.m. ET.
History and heritage won’t be on anybody’s mind in the Windy City on Sunday though. Instead, both the Packers and Bears will be thinking firmly in the here and now, each looking to gain a crucial win within the division.
The Story So Far
After a less than impressive performance on the road against the defending champion Seattle Seahawks to open the 2014 NFL season, Green Bay (1-2, 0-2 road) returned home in Week 2 and managed to fend off the New York Jets.
Last weekend, back on the road, the Packers looked out of sorts, spluttering on offense and ultimately failing to the Detroit Lions. Mike McCarthy’s side managed to tally just one lone touchdown before being shutout in the second half.
The loss exposed plenty of holes in Green Bay’s current setup and was a massive black mark against the team’s title aspirations. On opening day the Packers were considered 9/1 to win Super Bowl XLIX (5th). Now those odds sit at 22/1 (tied-9th).
While it’s too early for this to be a must-win game for the Packers, it certainly has an anxious feel to it.
Chicago (2-1, 0-1 home) also opened the season in poor fashion, succumbing to the Buffalo Bills at Soldier Field on the opening weekend.
An impressive Sunday Night Football performance – at least the second half rally it provided – in Week 2 saw the Bears score the come-from-behind victory over the favored San Francisco 49ers at Levi’s Stadium.
In Week3, despite a slew of injuries on the defensive side of the ball, Mark Trestman’s side managed to outlast the Jets at MetLife Stadium on Monday Night Football, making it two upset road wins in a row. Now the team returns to Soldier Field and Sunday play for its first divisional matchup of the season.
The NFC North Landscape
Even if Green Bay was to lose to Chicago on Sunday, a 1-3 start isn’t disastrous in the NFC North.
Once again, the division has yet to throw out a frontrunner and there’s a sense that three of the four sides (sorry Minnesota Vikings fans) could emerge as the division champion. There’s also the sense that an 8-8 record could be enough.
Detroit has, in fleeting glances, showed signs of improvement and have an offense that has the necessary tools to compete, but hasn’t shown it over the last two weeks.
The Bears also have a solid offense but will need to steady the ship through some choppy waters defensively thanks to an injury plague that has descended on the team.
The Packers have a decent passing game, a decent running game and experience, but simply don’t appear to be gelling right now. That could change in a heartbeat though, one of the things that makes the NFC North impossible to predict at this early stage.
One thing’s for sure though: winning in the division is crucial, which makes Sunday’s game critical for both teams.
In a rivalry that dates back all the way to 1921, Chicago leads the head-to-head series 93-89-6, with a 51-45-2 advantage when playing at home.
Green Bay will be confident as it makes its 99th trip to the Windy City though. The Packers have won eight of their last nine meetings with the Bears. The one loss came last season in the game in which Aaron Rodgers left with injury.
Furthermore, the Packers have gone 17-4 in their last 21 road games against the Bears.
Of course, recent success doesn’t always translate to what happens on the field. You need only look at last week’s game between the Packers and Lions to see that. Green Bay entered that clash having won 23 of 27 head-to-head matchups.
Chicago’s defense is banged up heading into this one. The Bears will be without linebacker Shea McClellin (hand), cornerback Sherrick McManis (quadriceps), and defensive tackle Jay Ratliff (concussion), while defensive end Jared Allen (illness) and safety Chris Conte (shoulder) are listed as questionable.
Cornerback Charles Tillman (triceps) is out for the season, and underwent surgery this past week.
On the offensive side of the ball, center Roberto Garza (ankle) and guard Matt Slauson (ankle) are out, while wide receiver Brandon Marshall (ankle) is questionable.
Things don’t look so grizzly for the Packers, although wide receiver Jarrett Boykin (knee, groin) and linebacker Brad Jones (quadriceps) are listed as questionable. Linebacker Clay Matthews (groin) is listed as probable.
Below you’ll find Betting Sports’ breakdown of odds and betting trends.
The Packers are 2-4 in their last six road games but will be hoping a recent purple patch against the Bears is enough to see them through. The Wisconsin side has beaten the Bears in seven of the last eight and has dominated at Soldier Field in recent years (see head-to-head).
Spread: The spread opened at 1.5 in favor of Chicago but bettors were quick to back the Pack thanks to its recent dominance in the series, not to mention the Bears’ injury woes. Right now, the spread is at 2 in favor of Green Bay.
The Bears (2-1-0 ATS) have covered the spread in their last two, while Green Bay (0-2-1 ATS) has yet to cover the spread this season.
The Packers are 6-1-0 ATS in their last seven head-to-head meetings with the Bears, and 6-1-0 ATS in their last seven trips to the Windy City.
Total: The total opened at 49.5 and has climbed a point to 50.5.
Green Bay (2-1-0 O/U) has favored the over through the early part of this campaign, while Chicago (1-2-0 O/U) has favored the under.
The under certainly looks like the smart bet this weekend, with 11 of the last 13 head-to-head matchups having seen the under pay out. The total has also gone under in six of the last seven games the two sides have played in Chicago.
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