Cleat Geeks

NFL Sunday Night Football Preview: Week 1

The first Sunday night game of the season is a matchup of NFC North rivals: Chicago Bears (0-0) @ Green Bay Packers (0-0). This game got a lot more interesting when Chicago showed the Raiders the draft picks and showed Khalil Mack the money, adding the former Defensive Player Of The Year to an already stout defense. Green Bay has a few additions of their own but none more important than the return of Aaron Rodgers at QB. The Packers were 2-0 against the Bears in 2017, one with Mr. Rodgers and one without, but are coming off of their first season missing the playoffs in almost a decade.

Both teams will look to start 2018 off right in Green Bay on Sunday night. Kickoff will be at 8:20 EST and the weather in Green Bay should be perfect for this game.

Chicago Bears

The Bears are just about as “new look” as you’ll find in the NFL this season. The changes started at the top when the Bears showed John Fox the door in favor of Chiefs offensive coordinator Matt Nagy. Nagy’s offense could not be more different from Fox’s, it’s essentially the tortoise and the hare but we all win because it’s not John Fox’s boring offense.

Image result for allen robinson bears

Photo by; Chicago Tribune

The changes continue with the additions of former Jaguars WR Allen Robinson and former Eagles TE Trey Burton to be 2nd year QB Mitch Trubisky’s primary targets. Robinson had a quiet preseason and will need to prove quickly that he is fully recovered from last year’s knee injury if the Bears hope to improve on last season’s 30th ranked passing game. Jordan Howard and Tarik Cohen will again lead the Bears backfield.

On the defensive side of the ball, the Bears waited til late in the preseason to make arguably the biggest trade the NFL has seen in years. Khalil Mack is one of the league’s premier pass-rushers and will improve a front 7 already comprised of 2016 1st round pick Leonard Floyd and 2017 1st round pick Roquan Smith.

Key Injuries: None

Green Bay Packers

While the focus of the Bears is the new faces, the Packers are focused on returning faces, specifically the face of their franchise, Aaron Rodgers. Rodgers missed 9 games last year after injuring his collarbone but is back and ready to rock in his 14th NFL season. One thing Rodgers will be missing is longtime security blanket Jordy Nelson who is now in Oakland. Davante Adams will step in the WR1 role for the Packers after registering 10+ TDs in each of the last 2 seasons. The most likely benefactor of Nelson’s departure will be newly acquired TE Jimmy Graham. Graham will look to return to his former New Orleans dominance after a largely disappointing stint in Seattle. While fellow rookie Aaron Jones serves out his 2 game suspension, Jamaal Williams will lead the Green Bay backfield.

Image result for jimmy graham green bay packers

On defense, the Packers added former Jet Mohammed Wilkerson to sure up their defensive line and Tramon Williams returns to the secondary after a 3-year hiatus to Cleveland and Arizona. An interesting note: the Packers tried to sign CB Kyle Fuller away from the Bears but Chicago matched the offer sheet.

Key Injuries: S Josh Jones (Ankle) – ILB Oren Burks (Shoulder)

Matchups to Watch

Packers Offensive Line vs Bears Front 7
The Bears will have no shortage of pass-rushers and have a secondary capable of handling a lot of man-to-man matchups. How will Green Bay combat the constant pressure and keep Aaron Rodgers upright?

Davante Adams vs Kyle FullerImage result for davante adams green bay packers
Adams opens the year as the primary target for arguably the best QB in the NFL. Fuller was one of the best cover corners in the NFL last season and should give Adams all that he can handle to open the season.

Jordan Howard vs Packers Linebackers
If the Bears are going to win this game, they are going to need to keep the ball out of Rodgers’ hands for as long as possible. The talk all offseason was that Jordan Howard would be a true workhorse back for this offense, now he’ll need to prove it. The Packers front 7 are no slouches and will be a formidable first opponent.

Fantasy Focus

Pay attention to the Packer pass catchers. Is Adams ready to be THE guy? Will Jimmy Graham buck the trend of lackluster Packer TEs? Most importantly: will the real Randall Cobb please stand up? Cobb was a top 10 fantasy WR in this offense 4 years ago but has been nothing close to that since. With the departure of Jordy Nelson, can he be the WR2 this offense needs or will rookie WR Geronimo Allison usurp him?

Prediction

The Packers defense was bottom 10 in points and yards allowed last year but I’m not totally sold on the emergence of Mitch Trubisky and this Chicago offense. We should see Aaron Rodgers hop right back in where he left off, even against a tremendously improved Chicago defense. The 1st half may be close, but experience will win out and the Packers should start the season with a home victory

Packers 27 – Bears 17

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