Packers (+3) at Bears (46.5)
Pick: Packers ML (+148)
Let’s start by looking at some coaching changes for both teams in this one.
No more Mike McCarthy in Green Bay and no more Vic Fangio in Chicago. McCarthy’s reign in America’s Dairyland finally came to an end last year after 13 seasons with the green and gold while Fangio bolted from the windy city to become the Broncos’ head coach. Fangio was in charge of a Bears defense that was towards the top in almost every statistical category last year, including takeaways, which are one of the harder statistics to predict from week to week and especially from season to season. The Bears thrived off of short fields, putting an offense without many elite playmakers in good spots to put up points.
Then consider that turnover margin in any game usually comes down to quarterbacks making good decisions and avoiding interceptions and ask yourself which quarterback you’d rather have here. Aaron Rodgers gets a chance to prove last season’s struggles were mostly on McCarthy’s ineptitude and perhaps Matt LaFleur comes out with some tricks up his sleeve in the same way Matt Nagy did at Lambeau Field last year during Week 1 when the Bears got out of the gate hot. Granted, Chicago choked that game away late, but the logic of a new offensive-minded coach coming out with a couple of wrinkles against a division rival still applies.
With the 3.5s mostly gone on this game, I’m inclined to agree with the line move. I’ll look for a bigger payout and take the Packers on the moneyline.
Another pro-Green Bay angle I like here is that the Packers made an effort to address their pass rush in the offseason adding Za’Darius Smith and Preston Smith in free agency and drafting Rashan Gary in the first round. Given I expect Chicago’s turnover margin to regress to the mean this season, I have to think these pass rushers hound Mitchell Trubisky all night long, generate a few takeaways in the process, and the Packers win the turnover battle . . . and the game.
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