A Momentous Year for the Greatest NFL Rivalry

The NFL is opening its 100th season with a Thursday night meeting between the oldest rivalry in the league. On September 5th in Chicago, the Green Bay Packers will face the Chicago Bears for the 199th time. This kicks off a momentous year for the greatest NFL rivalry and is the 14th straight year these division rivals are playing under the bright lights. To date, the Packers lead the rivalry with a 97-95-6 record. Last season, the Packers faced the Bears on Sunday Night Football in Week 1. In this game, Aaron Rodgers returned to the field and made a one-legged comeback for the ages to top Chicago 24-23.

The rift began in 1921 when Chicago was called The Staleys and blew Green Bay out 20-0. Over the years, these teams have played each other hard, including two playoff meetings. Each team took their turn dominating their rival. In 1955, the Bears beat the Packers by a lopsided score of 52-31, and they fell to the Packers 14-55 in 2014. The Packers-Bears rivalry is the oldest, and arguably the most intense, of the league. This 199th meeting marks the beginning of a momentous year for the greatest NFL rivalry.

A Momentous Year for the Greatest NFL Rivalry

While the 2019 season is months away, SB Nation gives the Bears a 3.5-point edge on the Packers. There are a few things to consider here. The Packers had a disappointing end to the 2018 season, missing the playoffs for the second consecutive year. The Bears claimed the NFC North crown following their Week 15 24-17 win over the Pack. Last year’s outcome does not necessarily dictate how this one will go, though. The NFL Draft is yet to occur, and Green Bay has two first-round picks. 247 Sports predicts that the Packers could select edge rusher Josh Allen from Kentucky, who “recorded 10.5 tackles for loss and seven sacks” during his junior year. They are also eyeing safety Deionte Thompson out of Alabama, who racked up 62 tackles, 3.5 tackles for loss, two interceptions, and five passes defended in his junior year.

Meanwhile, Chicago gave up their first-round draft pick last year for Khalil Mack, which proved to be a worthwhile choice. Mack had 12.5 sacks and 37 solo tackles in his first year with the Bears. ESPN ranked Chicago’s defense number 3 overall for the 2018 season.

Because the Packers have struggled defensively for years, they finally decided to make some changes. In free agency, they said goodbye to Clay Matthews, Nick Perry, and Kentrell Brice. Making a rare free agent splash, the Packers acquired Bears safety Adrian Amos. Additionally, they signed offensive guard Billy Turner and two outside linebackers, Za’Darius Smith and Preston Smith. Interestingly, the Bears signed former Packers safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix to replace Amos.

This will be Matt Nagy‘s second year as Bears head coach. In one year he transformed the Bears offense, so it will be interesting to see what he can do in year two. As many headlines have explained, the Packers fired head coach Mike McCarthy following the embarrassing 20-17 loss to the Cardinals at home in Week 13. During the off-season, Green Bay hired former Tennesse Titans offensive coordinator, Matt LaFleur. Prior to replacing John Fox with Nagy, Chicago was reportedly interested in LaFleur. Now, LaFleur and Nagy will face off for the first time in their head coaching careers. Considering the history, the players, and the coaches, the 2019 season is shaping up to be a momentous year for the greatest NFL rivalry.

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