Chicago Bears take on Green Bay Packers to kick off NFL season
CHICAGO -- The Chicago Bears' season gets underway Sunday afternoon against rival Green Bay Packers.
The Bears are looking for big improvements in year two under coach Matt Eberflus. He'll have Justin Fields back as quarterback, along with several new players up and down the roster.
The Packers will not have Aaron Rodgers. He's been replaced in Green Bay by Jordan Love after Rodgers signed with the New York Jets in the offseason.
The game kicks off 3:25 p.m. at Soldier Field.
OPENING LINE: Bears by 2, according to FanDuel SportsBook.
LAST MEETING: Packers beat Bears 28-19 on Dec. 4, 2022, in Chicago.
PACKERS PLAYER TO WATCH: QB Jordan Love. The 2020 first-round draft pick from Utah State faces the unenviable task of taking over for four-time MVP Aaron Rodgers, who was traded to the New York Jets. Love's only previous career start was a 13-7 loss at Kansas City in 2021. The Packers owned a 25-5 edge over the Bears counting the playoffs in games started by Rodgers. Love played in all three of Green Bay's exhibition games - the Packers typically had rested their starters in past preseasons - to get as prepared as possible for his first season as a starter.
BEARS PLAYER TO WATCH: QB Justin Fields. The former Ohio State star needs to show in his third season that he can become the passer the Bears need him to be. He emerged as one of the league's most exciting players last season, rushing for 1,143 yards and coming close to Lamar Jackson's NFL record for a QB of 1,206. But he threw for just 2,242 yards and 17 touchdowns while getting sacked 55 times, tying Denver's Russell Wilson for the most in the league. Fields' season high for passing was 254 yards against Green Bay in Week 13 at Soldier Field.
KEY MATCHUP: Bears WR DJ Moore vs. Packers CB Jaire Alexander. Chicago made a big trade for a No. 1 receiver by acquiring Moore from Carolina for the No. 1 overall pick. And he's facing a big test going against a two-time Pro Bowler. Moore, who had 5,201 yards in five seasons with the Panthers, has done well against Green Bay, with 15 receptions for 251 yards in two games.
KEY INJURIES: Packers WR Christian Watson is out and WR Romeo Doubs is questionable due to hamstring injuries. Packers OLB Rashan Gary is expected to play after tearing his anterior cruciate ligament last November. Green Bay's coaches have said that Gary will be on a "pitch count" early in the season. Packers OT David Bakhtiari didn't practice Wednesday or Thursday but says he expects to play. Packers CB Eric Stokes (foot) is opening the season on the physically unable to perform list. ... Bears S Jaquan Brisker (groin) is expected to be ready for the opener after missing the preseason. S Eddie Jackson (ankle) and DE DeMarcus Walker (calf) were also banged up. LG Teven Jenkins (leg) is on injured reserve.
SERIES NOTES: The Packers have won eight in a row over the Bears. That represents Green Bay's second-longest win streak in this series. The Packers beat the Bears 10 straight times from 1994-98. The Packers have won 12 of the past 13 matchups at Soldier Field. Eight of the past 11 Packers-Bears games at Soldier Field ended up with single-digit margins. The Packers beat the Bears 27-10 at home and 28-19 in Chicago last season. In the game at Chicago, the Packers trailed 19-10 heading into the fourth quarter before rallying. That game enabled the Packers to overtake the Bears for the NFL lead in all-time regular-season wins.
STATS AND STUFF: These two teams have the most regular-season wins of any NFL franchise. The Packers have 790 regular-season wins. The Bears rank second with 786. This marks the fifth straight year the Packers have opened the season away from home. That includes a 38-3 road loss to New Orleans in 2021 that was moved to Jacksonville, Florida, after Hurricane Ida struck southeast Louisiana. After many of their veterans left in the offseason, the Packers have only three players in their 30s. OT David Bakhtiari is 31. LB De'Vondre Campbell and OLB Preston Smith are each 30. The Packers own a 10-3 September record under coach Matt LaFleur, but have lost soundly in their past two season openers. After their loss to the Saints in 2021, the Packers opened their 2022 season by falling 23-7 at Minnesota. The Bears set a franchise record for losses last season, surpassing the previous mark of 13. Chicago was 0-6 against the NFC North last season - the first under GM Ryan Poles and coach Matt Eberflus. DE Yannick Ngakoue had 65 sacks in his first seven seasons, including 9 1/2 last season with Indianapolis.
FANTASY TIP: Though he had mixed results against Chicago last season, Packers RB Aaron Jones could have the upper hand in this one. After all, the Bears made some big changes on defense and might need time to come together. Jones, who ran for 1,121 yards in 2022, had 132 yards and a touchdown in Week 2. In the second meeting, Jones hurt his shin in the first half and finished with just 26 yards.