Rodgers returns to action for the Packers

Rodgers To Mark Return With Triumph Over Bears

Aaron Rodgers returns to the field for the Green Bay Packers as they lock horns with their NFC North rivals the Chicago Bears at Lambeau Field.

The two-time MVP missed the majority of the 2017 season after suffering a broken collarbone in week six of the campaign. Green Bay struggled without their quarterback, limping to a 7-9 term.

Changes have been made in the off-season at the Packers, who traditionally stay the course with players, coaches and executives. However, general manager Ted Thompson stepped down, while several coaches were fired, although head coach Mike McCarthy held on to his position.

Former offensive coordinator Joe Philbin returned to the club, while Mike Pettine takes over the role as defensive coordinator following the sacking of Dom Capers. The young talent is there for Green Bay, but they have to capitalise on their Super Bowl window with Rodgers beginning to edge towards the end of his career.

Chicago appear to be a team on the rise and have a new coach with Matt Nagy taking the reins for the 2018 campaign. He impressed with the Kansas City Chiefs as their offensive coordinator and now has the opportunity to put a stamp on his own team.

The Bears made one of the moves of the off-season by acquiring Khalil Mack from the Oakland Raiders. They gave up a lot of capital for the 2016 Defensive Player of the Year, but he has the potential to turn their defense into one of the NFL’s best.

Mitchell Trubisky enters his second season after a decent showing first time around in a poor team. There will be a strong level of expectation for the quarterback along with the offense, including playmaker Tarik Cohen to improve on their performances last term.

Rodgers returns to action for the Packers

Green Bay Packers

Green Bay battled without Rodgers for the majority of last season after losing him in week six. However, with Brett Hundley at quarterback they were only able to add three further victories to their total, ending with a 7-9 record and missing the playoffs for the first time since 2008. The franchise reacted to their failure with drastic changes to the coaching staff, replacing both coordinators and a number of position coaches. McCarthy is under huge pressure now, surviving the cull by the skin of his teeth. The Packers have underachieved with arguably the best quarterback in the NFL. They have not reached the Super Bowl since their triumph in the 2010 season. Their run has to end this term to ensure they are maximising their window with Rodgers in place.

There were unfortunate with his injury last season. However, Rodgers should have no problem picking up where he left off. The 34-year-old seemed to be on pace for another MVP-calibre season. This term the Packers have allowed one of his most trusted targets to leave as Jordy Nelson joined the Oakland Raiders. DaVante Adams remains as does Randall Cobb, but his receiving corps has looked stronger in the past. Jimmy Graham’s arrival will be a huge asset in the redzone, but the reliance on Rodgers appears to be the same as ever due to running back Aaron Jones’ injury problems. The quarterback will again have to be flawless throughout the campaign, starting against the Bears.

Pettine comes in as defensive coordinator having been out of the game since being fired as the head coach of the Cleveland Browns in 2015. He had success at the New York Jets in the same role and will bring a new-found aggression to the unit that was far too passive and stale under Capers. There’s not a huge amount of talent on the defense outside of Mike Daniels. The Packers have overturned their secondary over the past two years using the draft. There’s hope that the new players Jaire Alexander and Josh Jackson will hit the ground running.

Chicago Bears

The Bears have become quite an interesting team for the 2018 campaign following the acquisition of Mack. He could turn their defense into one of the elite units in the NFL. Mack won Defensive Player of the Year while at the Raiders in the 2016 season, notching 11 sacks. The 26-year-old has averaged 10 sacks per season since entering the league four years ago. He will provide pressure off the edge, which the Bears will need playing against Rodgers along with Kirk Cousins and Matthew Stafford in the NFC North. Leonard Floyd will benefit from the move, giving the youngster a talented player to learn alongside after making a decent start to his NFL career.

With two good pass-rushers, it will ease the burden on the offense to keep pace with teams like the Packers in the division. Roquan Smith could be the best player to emerge out of the 2018 Draft. The linebacker was electric during his college career for the Georgia Bulldogs. He could be the sideline-to-sideline player that the Bears have been looking for to replace Brian Urlacher. There’s talent on the defensive line with Eddie Goldman receiving a new contract from the team, while Akiem Hicks has been outstanding in his three seasons in Chicago. The secondary just has to hold up and will have support now from the rest of the unit to ease the pressure.

Trubisky has to take a step forward for the Bears to become a threat in the NFC North. He had rookie struggles last season, but those were to be expected in a struggling team. There’s not a great deal of talent for him to work with in the receiving corps, although running backs Jordan Howard and Cohen will be involved in the offense. Howard has recorded back-to-back 1,000-yard terms in his first two seasons, while Cohen was a playmaker from the off last term. Expect them to be extremely influential over the course of the season.

Betting Options

The Bears are developing into a solid team, but they’re not ready to take out the Packers on the road just yet. Rodgers has owned Chicago in the past and it will be no surprise to see him pick apart their defense once again even with the addition on Mack.

Take the Packers to secure the win on the opening day of the campaign at odds of -310   with BetOnline, while Green Bay should be able to see out the contest by more than a touchdown so back the -7.5 spread at +105   with Bovada. The over/under line for total points has been set at 47, Rodgers could be in line for a special display on his return so take the over at -110   with TopBet.

Graham will be active in the redzone on his first appearance for the Packers. Take him to notch a touchdown on his debut at odds of +100 , while back Randall Cobb to go over 52 receiving yards at -118   with 888Sport. Howard should be good for a rushing performance of over 73 yards given the unpredictability of the Packers’ defense at -118 .

Tips Summary

Green Bay Packers To Beat Chicago Bears
Sunday 9th September 2018 20:30 ET (Monday 10th September 01:30 BST)
Odds: -310

Take -7.5 Spread Green Bay Packers
Sunday 9th September 2018 20:30 ET (Monday 10th September 01:30 BST)
Odds: +105

Over 47 Total Points To Be Scored
Sunday 9th September 2018 20:30 ET (Monday 10th September 01:30 BST)
Odds: -110

Jimmy Graham To Score Touchdown Anytime
Sunday 9th September 2018 20:30 ET (Monday 10th September 01:30 BST)
Odds: +100

Randall Cobb To Record Over 52 Receiving Yards
Sunday 9th September 2018 20:30 ET (Monday 10th September 01:30 BST)
Odds: -118

Jordan Howard To Record Over 73 Rushing Yards
Sunday 9th September 2018 20:30 ET (Monday 10th September 01:30 BST)
Odds: -118

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