Game Time: Thursday, September 5 at 8:20pm ET
Line: Chicago -3
For the first time since 2006 the Packers have a new head coach. Former Titans offensive coordinator Matt LaFleur has taken charge and normally when a new coach and system is implemented I err on the side of caution early in the season. But that is not the case with the situation in Green Bay because Aaron Rodgers high football IQ displaces that normal learning curve. Rodgers is healthy, happy, motivated and excited in implementing LaFleur’s run first offense.
The run game will excel behind a good and finally healthy offensive line led by LT David Baktiari and the surprising emergence of rookie LG Elgton Jenkins who will not only provide depth but likely supplant Lane Taylor as the starter. The ability in establishing the run will allow Rodgers to take advantage of play action and work wonders for TE Jimmy Graham.
The best decision LaFleur made after his hire was retaining defensive coordinator Mike Pettine from last year’s staff. The Packers defense was on an upswing under Pettine last year and should be much improved this season. The organization doubled down by being big spenders in free agency on that side of the ball. Last year’s weakness (safeties) is now a strength with the addition of veteran Adrian Amos and rookie Darnell Savage, who is exactly that, a savage. Savage’s impact will be immediate with the help of Amos coaching him up in regards to pre-snap adjustments.
The linebacker unit was also upgraded with the additions of Za’darius Smith and Preston Smith. Jaire Alexander is a Pro Bowl caliber cornerback who I expect to have a breakout year. The Packers revamped secondary should have no problem shutting down the Bears wide receivers and tight ends which will allow the linebackers to roam, spy or rush Bears QB Mitch Trubisky in passing situations.
Green Bay looks good value here.
Recommended Bet: Packers +3
Learn more about Kris Dawson’s NFL picks.