I hate predicting the first game. You have no basis to go by, no tendencies to track, and a lack of film to watch. And preseason football is so very vanilla, with no offensive coach revealing his weapons, no defensive coach showing his blitzes, and no special teams coach knowing what he has (or doesn't have). You have nothing to base an intelligent pick on, just a gut feeling and film from last years games.
Chicago Coach Lovie Smith has said that his number one goal when he was hired was to beat the Packers, and he's been very good at achieving that goal (7 wins 3 losses). On the other hand, Aaron Rodgers said this year, at the end of the preseason, that we need to win our home games in order to get the Lambeau Field mystique back, and that was his number one goal.
Chicago has a new quarterback in Jay Cutler. They have a stable of young receivers led by the speedster Devin Hester along with a very polished top tier tight end in Greg Olsen. Add in a stud running back in Matt Forte, and you have the makings of a very respectable offensive attack. The Packers, meanwhile, will be instituting their new 3-4 defense under the leadership of Dom Capers. This matchup will go a long way in telling Packer fans which way the wind is gonna blow.
Green Bay has Aaron Rodgers who is starting under center for his second year. Although the Packers finished at 6 and 10, Rodgers had the 2nd best statistical season in the NFL throwing for over 4000 yards, 28 touchdowns, and 13 interceptions for a 93.8 QB rating. He will have veteran running back Ryan Grant following fullback John Kuhn. Add in the wide receivers Greg Jennings, Donald Driver, Jordy Nelson and James Jones and tight ends Donald Lee and 2nd year player Jermichael Finley, and you have one of the more explosive attacks in the NFL. They will be matched up against one of the more formidable defenses North of the Mason Dixon. With all of its players healthy, this should prove worthy of the price of admission.
Being that the game is on Sunday night of opening weekend, at Lambeau Field, with a national TV audience, and sold out should definitely give the Packers the competitive edge. So, with that being said, I'll go with the Packers over the Bears 21 to 14 in a defensive struggle. That's always the way it is up at Lambeau.
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