That wave of energy you can feel emanating from a northwesterly direction? It could be something to do with global warming, but my feeling is it’s probably the vibes around Green Bay, Wisconsin, wafting towards us now Mike McCarthy’s gone and Aaron Rodgers doesn’t have to stoop to his ex-coach’s intellectual level anymore.
Which is funny because he will have to stoop down to new coach Matt Lafleur – literally – as the Packers’ chief tore his left Achilles this offseason and has coached the team from a golf kart during the offseason.
And while many – well, me anyway – would think that the Super Bowl MVP-winning quarterback should be given the freedom to do what he wants following McCarthy’s miserable departure, it may be worth watching for signs of tension between the new coach and his star player in this game.
Not that it wouldn’t be worth watching just for Rodgers’ play anyway. He’s an electric presence on the field, and Chicago’s opposite number, Mitchell “The Mitchenator” Trubisky, pales in comparison to the 35-year-old.
His team is not necessarily built for offensive ding-dong battles though. Rather, they aim to hassle opposing QBs into making mistakes. It worked very well for them last year until kicker Cody Parkey’s double-doink field goal attempt cost them versus the Eagles in the playoffs, but it’ll be hard to replicate the 2018 performance again, especially with their defensive coach Dick Fangio of a season now off in Denver breaking-in some Broncos.
The regression is likely to start at Soldier Field in week 1, and it’s hard not to like the idea of a freewheeling Rodgers – and possibly Lafleur if the handbrake slips – revving up to speed against their divisional rivals. Green Bay +3 on the Handicap is a must-play at 9/10, and I’d even consider the 7/5 on them to win outright.
Back Green Bay +3 @ 9/10
While Lafleur may be temporarily incapacitated, running-back Derrick Henry certainly wasn’t last season when the now-Packers HC was offensive coordinator for the Tennessee Titans.
He posted 12 touchdowns and over 1000 rushing yards in 2018 as Lafleur earned his chance to take charge of the Cheeseheads based on just one season in Nashville. Whether he’s a good fit for the green and gold remains to be seen, but one beneficiary of his arrival could be Aaron Jones, the Pack’s running back, who is figured by many to be in line for the bulk of the backfield workload under the new coach.
He’s shown his talent in the past, is capable in the passing game and a good blocker, but remaining healthy has been a problem. Now he’s had all offseason to get ready and hopefully he can show up in Chicago with a performance to fit the stage. We’ve a #whatoddspaddy offer of 8/1 on Jones to have over 100 yards rushing and 1 touchdown or more at 8/1, which is a reasonable prop given the new impetus in the rushing game in Green Bay should have with the new man in charge.
Back Aaron Jones 100+ Rushing Yards and 1+ TD @ 8/1
The Bears benefitted hugely from turnovers forced last season – they had 27 interceptions alone, giving them great field position to work as well as defensive scores.
It’s unlikely they’ll replicate that feat this year. that’ll spell problems for the offence, which has playmakers but will struggle to keep pace with high-scoring teams. When the pressure comes on, we have to expect the quarterback Trubisky to make mistakes.
In previous years, the Packers lacked a secondary that could cover the opposition targets, let alone threaten to make plays, but Jaire Alexander gives them an exciting defensive back and big things are expected from rookie Darnell Savage. They’ve also built up their linebacking corps. That could make the difference late in this game, and a bet on the Packers D/Special Teams to score the last touchdown in this game is tempting at 22/1.