Thursday Night Football: Heavily Favored Packers Host Confident Bears

Who: Chicago Bears v. Green Bay Packers

When: Thursday September 28th, 2017 8:25PM EST

Where: Lambeau Field—Green Bay, Wisconsin

When you think of NFL rivalries, there are few that are more iconic nor historic than the Packers and the Bears. The rivalry dates back to 1921, when the teams first met in what is one of the most iconic football games ever. While, for the longest time, the Bears were clearly the stronger side, that much has changed over the past few decades. Heading into Thursday Night Football, the Bears/Packers rivalry is tied at 94 wins apiece, with 6 ties between them as well. This year, however, it is clear to most folks already which of these two sides will end up with the better record when all is said and done, and through the early runnings it is looking more and more like the team from Green Bay.

Despite the Bears presumably being underdogs heading into Wisconsin, they will be entering their 4th game of the season on the back of a fairly impressive home win against Pittsburgh. Though Chicago ended up conceding a fairly sizeable lead and the game advanced into overtime, the Bears were able to see things through and ultimately take care of the Steelers—a team that made it to the AFC Championship game last season—fairly easy on the first possession of the overtime period.

Like the Bears, the Packers also made their own lives more difficult this past Sunday, thanks to digging themselves a hole early against the Bengals. Despite the initial scare, the Packers’ defense stormed back in the 2nd half and effectively shut Cincinnati down. The Packers’ second half performance also showed the rest of the league that they are finally beginning to come together on both sides of the ball and are no longer so one-dimensional. They will look to open up divisional play with a win, and there will be few people rooting against them in Green Bay on Thursday.

Game Overview and Analysis

The +7 (+101) Bears (+270) will enter Lambeau Field having finally discovered some sort of offense. Through their first 2 games it did not look like they were going to be able to muster much of anything on offense, especially after they managed just 7 points in Week 2. As fate would have it, however, playing in Soldier Field, in front of their home fans, proved to be enough as the Bears almost matched Weeks 1 and 2’s points tally by the end of their 23-17 OT win over the Steelers. This win is going to give the Bears confidence, but there are still plenty of concerns with regard to their ability to remain consistent, and put up that type of performance two weeks in a row.

For me, the Bears’ chances in this game—whether you are talking about winning outright or covering the spread—boils down to whether or not they will be able to stop the Packers’ pass attack. There is absolutely no secret about the fact that Green Bay is a pass-first offense, but teams are still often unable to match up effectively. If the Bears can shut Rodgers down the way they contained Roethlisberger, I think they will give themselves a fighting chance.

With regard to the -7 (-121) Packers (-325), they were pegged as being the best team in their division prior to the season, but after 3 games there is not so much confidence surrounding that opinion. While their loss to the Falcons is not being seen as a huge deal, the fact that Cincinnati and the Seahawks lost by 1 possession is something their fans are not going to forget about quickly. We have so far seen glimpses of greatness from players like Aaron Rodgers, Jordy Nelson, Randall Cobb, and Martellus Bennett, but we have not seen the type of offensive fluidity that seems to be inherent with those aforementioned players.

The Packers defense, like their offense, has shown signs that they can be good. If the Pack can put on a more consistent, level performance against the Bears in the first game of NFC North divisional play, they should not have many issues at all with the Bears.

Betting Prediction

If you are looking to take a moneyline wager in this one, I think you need to go with the Packers (-325) simply because not too many teams walk into Green Bay and leave with a victory. Having said this, the odds being offered by BetOnline are not the best, so perhaps the moneyline should be shied away from.

The point spread from BetOnline is -7 (-121) and is in favor of the Packers. While this is a bit risky of a wager after seeing how they struggled in all 3 of their games so far, I think the Packers vastly outmatch the Bears and I think that will show on Thursday. With all of this taken into consideration, it is also worth mentioning that the +7 (+101) Bears are 2-1 against the spread this season, which is why this pick becomes so much more difficult.

Finally, there is the over/under, of which is listed at 45.5 (-110/-110). I think the under (-110) is the smartest pick in this one because I do not think the Bears’ offense has enough firepower. What’s more, the Packers haven’t exactly been a well-oiled machine, so I think this game is likely to stay below 45 points.