Thursday night sees the Chicago Bears (1-0, 0-0 road) visit longtime rivals the Green Bay Packers (0-1, 0-1 home) in an early NFC North divisional matchup.
The Packers are coming off a well-documented 30-21 loss at home to the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday. Chicago arrives at Lambeau Field on the back of a 41-21 drubbing of Andrew Luck and the Indianapolis Colts.
The fallout from Week 1’s results immediately impacted Futures with oddsmakers. Green Bay began the season at 6/1 to take the NFC championship and 10/3 to win Super Bowl XLVII. That loss to San Francisco has stretched those odds to 17/2 and 4/1 respectively.
Meanwhile, Chicago commenced play last Sunday with odds of 8/1 to win the NFC and 15/1 to lift the Vince Lombardi trophy. Both have been cut following last weekend’s win over Indianapolis, and now stand at 8/1 (NFC championship) and 15/1 (Super Bowl).
Despite the overall fall in favor, oddsmakers still pick Green Bay as the team to beat in the NFC North. The Packers currently stand at 2/3 to take the division, followed by Chicago (5/2), Detroit (4/1) and Minnesota (18/1).
Green Bay will look to bounce back from Sunday’s loss behind QB Aaron Rodgers. Rodgers threw for 324 yards in Week 1, tallying 2 TDs and 1 INT in the process. Passing though wasn’t a problem. The Packers combined for only 45 yards rushing, with new RB Cedric Benson – a former-Bear – getting just 18 yards on the ground. The stingy 49er defense may have played its part, but Packers coach Mike McCarthy will be hoping for a better performance against the Bears.
Green Bay’s defense against the run was less than stellar also. The Pack gave up 191 yards to Frank Gore and the Niners, something Lovie Smith and the Bears will no doubt pay close attention to. Expect a big dose of Matt Forte and Michael Bush, who combined for 122 yards on Sunday.
Green Bay WR Greg Jennings is listed as doubtful after suffering a groin injury against San Francisco. Donald Driver is ready to step in. The 14-year veteran still has enough in the tank to make a difference.
Chicago has listed both LB Brian Urlacher and CB Charles Tillman as questionable ahead of the game. If both miss the game, Chicago could be in for a rough ride.
Meanwhile, Bears QB Jake Cutler has fanned the flames with his comments regarding Green Bay’s secondary. His “Good Luck” message will not fall on deaf ears. He’d better hope his offensive line can stand up to the challenge then.
When the teams take to the field on Thursday (8:20 PM ET) Green Bay will be -6 favorites with the moneyline at -230. Chicago’s moneyline is set at +190. The over/under for the game is 52 points.
Bettors looking for a historical edge may prefer to go with the home side this week. Green Bay has won the last five games played between the sides at Lambeau Field, including a 21-14 victory in the NFC Championship Game in January 2011. The Packers took both head-to-head matchups from the Bears last season, on the way to a 15-1 record, and are 7-2 against Chicago since 2008. Over that period, the Bears have been outscored 110-54.
The Packers have recorded a 23-4 (.852) record at Lambeau since 2009 and 34-9 (.791) record since 2007. Chicago meanwhile has only had three seasons (2010, 2006, 2001) with a winning road record in the last 20 years.
Green Bay visits Soldier Field in Week 15 (December 16) for a second game against Chicago.