Green Bay Packers vs. Chicago Bears Week 1 Preview and Pick – Point Spread

Chicago Bears (0-0) vs. Green Bay Packers (0-0), 8:20 p.m. EST,
Sunday, September 13, 2009, Lambeau Field, Green Bay, Wis., TV: NBC

by Badger of

Point Spread: Chicago +3.5/Green Bay -3.5
Over/Under: 46.5

Sunday Night Football in America on NBC kicks off its 2009 season
with a classic black-n-blue game from the NFC North, when the Chicago
Bears travel up to Green Bay to renew the NFLs oldest rivalry
against the Packers at Lambeau Field.

Only this time around the Packers-Bears rivalry wont resemble
anything like the Packers-Bears grinders of old, not since these two
teams feature two of the NFLs youngest strong-armed quarterbacks in
Aaron Rodgers and Jay Cutler.

Oddsmakers opened this game with the Packers as the standard 3-point
favorite due to homefield advantage, and the point spread has only
moved up the hook to Packers -3.5 at most football betting sites on the Web. Not much of a surprise, really.

Its the over/under total that has accounted for all of the line
movement in this game, opening at 43.5 and climbing up a full three
points to its current level of 46.5 at most books. Thats a big move
for a total, especially a one that oddsmakers have taken multiple
weeks to analyze and set where they wanted it, which smells fishy to me.

Offensively this game could easily turn into a shootout.

The Packers offense looked at mid-season form throughout the entire
preseason, with the first team unit outscoring their opponents 76-10
in four games. Rodgers looks like he has a full grasp of the
playbook, running back Ryan Grant is signed and healthy and WR’s Greg
and Donald Driver are the best starting pair of receivers in
the NFC North, so theres no reason the Packers shouldnt be in the
top-5 in scoring again in 09.

Hopes are even higher in Chicago, as Bears fans finally got what theyve wished for all these years in the offseason with the
acquisition of a quarterback. The Bears were nearly a playoff team in
08, so the addition of the gunslinger Cutler will open up the
passing game for the Bears and make life a little easier for running
back Matt Forte.

Theres just one issue for the Bears on offense and thats their receiving core. Tight end Greg Olsen looked like Cutlers go-to
option during preseason play, but he was the only one that looked in
sync with the new signal caller. Devin Hester is still a work in
progress, and Juaquin Iglesias, Earl Bennett and Johnny Knox wont scare too many defenses on third-and-long.

On defense, this game has the angle of old versus new. As in, can the
Bears defense of old reclaim their status in the game, or will the
Packers new 3-4 scheme under Dom Capers take the Packers defense to
the next level.

The Bears defense is thin and banged up in the secondary, so that could become a factor in this game. Charles Tillman missed the entire
preseason with a bad back, and safety Daniel Manning and corner
Zackary Brown are both nursing hamstring pulls. Expect the Packers to
test their Bears depth at d-back by going into their 4- and 5-wide
packages early in the game.

Both teams defended the home turf in this series last season, as the
Packers won 37-3 at Lambeau in November, before the Bears won a 20-17
game a few days before Christmas. The Packers, however, covered the
point spread in both games.

In fact, as far as betting trends go, the Packers have owned the head-
to-head battle of late with an 11-5-1 ATS record in the last 17
games. But all but two of those games were played with Brett Favre
and some Bears chump at QB, so as I said, this isnt your typical
Packers-Bears game.

Both teams in the rivalry seem to feed off the crowd, since the road
team is 13-6-1 ATS going back through their last 20 games. The
underdog (usually the away team) is also a solid 4-1 ATS in the last
five meetings.

Badgers Pick: Even though this game looks like it should be high scoring affair with lots of offensive firepower, something tells me
its going to turn out more like a classic NFC North ground battle.
So Im going against the public and taking the under of 46.5.