Here Come the Green Monsters of the Midway

Note: I recorded a “Packer Preview” podcast looking ahead to the Bears game and the 2019 season. You can find it here:

“Packer Preview” returns for a 24th season this Sunday morning at 7am on KFAN and iHeart Radio. If that’s too early for you, podcast it whenever you wake up.

The NFL’s 100th season is upon us and it opens with our favorite rivalry: game #199 between the Pack and Bears. What a way for Matt LaFleur to begin his head coaching career: in prime time at Soldier Field.

There is such a sense of the unknown with the 2019 Packers in light of the coaching change and what it might mean for Aaron Rodgers and the offense. Throw in the capital Brian Gutekunst has thrown at reshaping the defense to suit Mike Pettine’s scheme and there is a lot we don’t know about this team. To me, it feels like this team could win anywhere between eight and eleven games.

The schedule is favorable in that five of the first seven are at home: precisely what the new offense needs to work the kinks out and get comfortable. Facing tough defenses like the Bears, Vikings, Broncos and Eagles the first four weeks leaves very little wiggle room for the offense to ramp up. The fact that the last three are at home is certainly a much needed advantage.

The truth is we’ve learned very little about this team in the preseason. When the bubble wrap finally comes off the starters on Thursday night, we’ll see what this offense is all about. We’ll see how LaFleur and Rodgers work together in a hostile environment. We’ll see what Aaron Jones can do against that front seven. We’ll see if MVS and Geronimo Allison are ready for bigger roles.

Defensively, we’ll see how the Smiths upgrade the pass rush and how the new safety combo improves the back end. And we’ll see whether Montravius Adams looks like he’s ready to take Mike Daniels’ spot on the line (he’d better be).

We know the Packers have owned this rivalry of late, finally taking the overall lead in the series, 97-95-6. Rodgers is 15-3 in games he starts and finishes against the Bears and if you want to watch highlights of him breaking their hearts, you better have some time on your hands.

But the Bears are reigning NFC North champs, sneaking up on everyone last season after swiping Khalil Mack from the Pack and getting a major boost from Matt Nagy’s creative offensive mind. But things will be different in 2019. It’s highly likely they will pick off 27 passes again and finish +12 in the takeaway department. Defensive guru Vic Fangio is off to Denver and their secondary replaced Adrian Amos and Bruce Callahan with Ha Ha Clinton Dix and Buster Skrine (woof).

The Bears will likely go as far as Mitch Trubisky takes them. Many expect him to make a leap in his third season and he has the weapons to do it: Allen Robinson, Anthony Miller, Taylor Gabriel, Cordarelle Patterson, Trey Burton, Tarik Cohen and rookie David Montgomery: that’s a nice stable of offensive weapons. But it’s up to Trubisky to make it all work and until he proves he can excel for 60 minutes, late in a close game, the jury will still be out. He’s always solid for those first 10-12 scripted plays. Then things tend to go a bit haywire.

Look for Mike Pettine to try to confuse him by moving Z. Smith, P. Smith and Gary all over the place. Look for Kenny Clark to wreak havoc in the middle and look for a young, hungry opportunistic defense to turn the tables and take a couple of balls away on Thursday night.

Offensively, it might be tough skating early. You have to believe there will be some rust that needs to get knocked off the first few series. The Bears will look to shut down the running lanes and pay extra attention to Davante Adams. Look for Rodgers to target Allison and the tight end frequently–could this be Bob Tonyan’s coming out party?

A key to this game will be special teams: the Pack’s coverage units were underwhelming in the preseason with a lot of new faces. Patterson and Cohen both have the ability to tilt the field so the Pack must be sharp and stay in their lanes. The Pack has the big edge at kicker, where the Bears are relying on young Eddie Piniero, who was last seen shaking an extra point so badly the camera couldn’t keep up with the ball.

Look, the opening night home team has a great record in these games and Soldier Field will be rocking. It’s a tough spot for a new head coach. The last Packer coach to win his first game against the Bears was Dan Devine. But I have a strange feeling the Packers are going to make a statement on Thursday night. Soldier Field has been the Pack’s home away from home of late–they’ve won eight go their last nine games there.

Aaron Rodgers is at his best with a big old chip on his shoulder, and all the offseason chatter about him has placed one there. His domination of the Bears continues, to kickoff the 2019 campaign.

Packers 21

Bears 20

Here are my 2019 playoff predictions:

NFC: 1. Philadelphia 2. New Orleans 3. Los Angeles 4. Minnesota 5. Green Bay 6. Atlanta

AFC: 1. Kansas City 2. New England 3. Cleveland 4. Houston 5. Los Angeles 6. Jacksonville

Super Bowl: Eagles over Chiefs

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13 Responses to Here Come the Green Monsters of the Midway

  1. Cane says:

    The “Rehire Dom Capers” chants will start early Friday morning in Entitledtown, WI after they see the effort put forth by the ravel of a defense this game. 24-6 Bears.

  2. Ron says:

    I’m starting to think the rivalry against the Bears has lost a lot of luster over the years. You point out that Rodgers has dominated Chicago for pretty much all of his playing days and the Bears have only made the playoffs 6 times in 26 years. Many mid-40 and under Packer fans I talk to speak of the Vikings as their biggest rival. It has to be competitive on both sides.

  3. YORE Mom says:

    Oh my sweet sum…er fall child. Yore unbridled and unreal homerism is so cute, my son. At least you have one thing rite: Vikings in the playoffs. At least you have a (declining) Waaron Rodgers to ride and (maybe?) save the day every week. When that fails (or gets injured again while going off schedule) you can look forward to picking in the top 5 of next year’s draft.
    See you at Sunday lunch after church, sonny! – Love,
    YORE Mom

  4. TheBattleOfTwinCousins says:

    Oooo Synny, I get that its the start of a new season and you are wanting to be hopeful and think everything is going to turn out. But everything is not okay, and things are going to turn out far, far worse than you or any other cheese sauce guzzling Fat Pack fan can comprehend. You thought last year was disappointing? Oh boy. Sorry, not everyone who hires a new head coach gets better the next year. See the Browns for a nice example. Oh and your QB? He hates everyone but himself and thinks he knows all when it comes to calling plays. I give it until week 4 when you guys start 1 -3 before we see Sharron yelling at Laflure on the sidelines. Watching the Pack lose to start the 100th season of the NFL will be the start of the greatest show of irony this side of the Mississippi. Bears 27 – Fat Pack – 10.

  5. Mr. LaFleur says:

    I wandered deep into a putrid swamp
    of stagnation and pestilence. On the horizon of the endless swamp, I saw a dark and evil forest.

    Entering the forest, I couldn’t shake the eerie feeling of being watched by unworldly creatures bent on my torment.

    Deep into the woods, I found a lost and lonely cabin, decrepit from neglect and giving off an aura of abuse – the lingering, haunting feeling of the unjust suffering of innocence.

    In this cabin, behind a fireplace full of human bones and ash, there was a large, dark, dusty access panel in the damp, mossy floor. I lifted and saw uneven steps of stone and mud leading down into an oppressive gloom of fog and darkness. I traveled down the steps for what seemed like multiple stories.

    At the bottom of the stairs was a desolate dungeon. whispers teased at the edges of my aural perception. Words eluded comprehension, but sounds of hissing and soft, hopeless crying were unmistakable.

    In the corner of this room stood a dark oak door, several inches thick, soaked in blood and hanging on wrought iron hinges. I crept slowly toward the door, terrified yet unable to stop, as though pulled by forces unknown to mankind.

    I opened the door.

    In the floor was a hole – a commode – a pit of filth and maggots, writhing audibly. I fell into the hole, clawed down to the dull, forsaken, earthen floor that had never seen the light of day, and never will.

    It was there that I saw it. I saw the Green Bay Packers.

  6. Roscoe Lombardi says:

    Roscoe Lombardi here, as my old daddy, former HOF coach of the Washington Redskins, used to say, “son, grandma doesn’t wear underpants so make sure you burn the couch after she leaves.”
    Now I gotta know why are you being so pessimistic. We done got the best QB that ever was, or will be. A true leader of men. Not only do men come seeking his guidance and Aaron comes for those men.
    Now I don’t know how many games we’re gonna win, but I do know that we will lose none.
    Now let’s pause a moment and remember the wise words of my daddy, “Son, if you ever get lonely, just wander around the Wisconsin woods and follow the banjo music. You’ll come home with a smile, a slight limp, and a story you can never tell your wife.”

  7. lynndickeyfan says:

    I’m glad to see the post came out in time to be commented on before the game. Let’s be clear, Sinny made the Pack 1 point favorites , hardly a ringing endorsement. We are all in wait and see mode. I have a better idea of what I’m getting for Christmas than I really do about what will happen this season. I love the Pack/Vikes rivalry as much as anyone, but the peeps on the otherside of the Chippewa know it’s about the Bears. Besides, without the Bears and Halas, the Pack would have folded a long time ago and we don’t know they would have come back and had the amazing history the Pack has. Predictions are hard, but Larry likes them. I’m going hope for competence and say 27-17 packers. I’m not sure why, or if I believe myself, but what the hell. I don’t have money on the game anyway.

  8. Big 5 The Legend and Oofda's Pimp says:

    Erin will get hit so hard when he wakes up his clothes will be (even more) out of style. I can see the real puker fans spitting, chuggin beer, showing hairy armpits and smokin stogies. The men will be even worse. Bears win the division easily. No comp, esp from the pukers and lowly eyepatch led vikings. Lions looking much improved. I’ll go 50-3 Bears.

  9. CoOp Cowboy says:

    Head Cheese,
    I like quotes and one that comes to mind is:
    Never regret being a good person to the wrong people. Your behavior says everything about you and theirs says enough about them.
    That being said — I appreciate your analysis and the comments speak for themselves.

    I’m a proud Packer fan for as long as I can remember. There were lean years and there were more good years. The majority of those years for me were the Packers had a HOF QB led offense that could amaze and inspire. So as fans, we just hoped the defense would be good enough to create something special. This is a team game last I recall.
    Expectations are high in my mind because of this proud franchise’s history, but past performance is not a true indication of future results. So I will leave with this quote:
    I have been wounded but not yet slain. I shall lie here and bleed awhile. Then I shall rise and fight again. The title of champion may from time to time fall to others more than ourselves. But the heart, the spirit and the soul of champions remain in Green Bay.

    Green Bay will make the playoffs in 2019. And it starts in Chicago (the longest and greatest of rivalries in the NFL)

  10. Packerlifer says:

    While we hope Matt LaFleur has the kind of immediate or early impact like Matt Nagy in Chicago last year or Sean McVay in LA before that, the last 3 coaches to have winning careers in Green Bay didn’t start fast. Mike Holmgren was 3-6 in his rookie season in 1992. Mike Sherman was 5-7 in 2000 and Mike McCarthy in 2006 4-8 in theirs. But before those first seasons were out they all had the needle pointing up. Holmgren’s first Packers team won 6 of last 7 to finish 9-7. Sherman & McCarthy each won their final four to go 9-7 & 8-8, respectively. None made the playoffs in that first year but all went on extended playoff and championship runs in the seasons that followed. Holmgren produced 6 straight playoff teams, won a Super Bowl and made a second appearance. Sherman had 4 straight playoff teams and won 3 straight NFC North championships. McCarthy had 9 playoff teams in 10 seasons, a streak of 8 in a row and won a Super Bowl. If LaFleur can be at least as successful as they were he’ll be okay. Of course, when it comes to Super Bowls we’re hoping for a little more with Matt than we got with the Mikes.

  11. Mike McCarthy says:

    Sorry Packer fans but …. without a certain Coach of the Decade (yours truly) and …. without Brent Dudley on the team ….. Good Luck crossing the Rubicon …. MM out.

  12. OLD SOUTH SIDE GUY says:

    OK…When I got on the site there were 12 comments on here. 8 of the 12 were guys still trying to get on SNL. 4 were Packer real diehards…so to you real diehards I speak. Lots of newness on this team so lots of lets wait and see. But what I want to see in this first game is sound fundamentals. That being better tackling, less dropped balls on both sides of ball, some consistent running game with the backs also catching passes, and how the new guys play. Lots of work in process and Pack will be fine. GO PACK GO !!

  13. larry says:

    Good to have football back again. the Pack just needs to keep penalties down and tackle well, and they will be in it till the end. no one knows yet, how well either team is., I am just glad the Packers are healthy for once. if they double Adams , like I’m sure they will, the other guys have to come thru. I see Allison having a big game, and 1 big play to 83 would be nice. I still see it, 27-16 bears. Hope I’m wrong. thanks for Predicting LDF, Now I need Packerlifer, OSSG< and the Voice as well. Go Packers

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