Sunday afternoon. Bears. Packers. Week 1. Football is finally here.
The historic rivalry between Chicago and Green Bay will be back in full swing when the Packers visit the Bears in just a few days’ time. Chicago will be debuting a reworked offensive unit that features star receiver DJ Moore, rookie first round pick Darnell Wright, and, of course, dynamic quarterback Justin Fields, who the entirety of fanbase is hoping will become the savior of the franchise.
In the other corner, Green Bay has a question mark etched into a position that has previously been stable for a long time: the quarterback. Former first round selection Jordan Love will be leading a unit that boasts the talented Christian Watson and a two-headed monster of a running back group in Aaron Jones and AJ Dillon.
Two of the oldest NFL teams are on collision course for each other Sunday, and here is everything you need to know about the NFL’s oldest rivalry.
The game will be the 205th regular-season meeting between the Bears and Packers
Week 1 will see another chapter being written for the oldest rivalry in football, as the Bears and Packers will play their 205th game against each other. The rivalry sprouted in 1921, and the bad blood that boiled over between the two fanbases back then is alive and well now.
The two organizations have had spectacular battles over the last century, with countless Hall of Fame players on both teams duking it out on the gridiron. Bears’ founder and legendary coach George “Stanley” Halas set the stage for football paragons to grace the team, such as Bronko Nagurski, Dick Butkus, Mike Ditka, Walter Payton and Brian Urlacher.
The Packers have incredible players in their own right play in the cold tundra of Lambeau Field, like Bart Starr, Ray Nitschke, Reggie White, Brett Favre and I would be remiss to not mention Green Bay’s iconic coach, the Super Bowl trophy’s namesake, Vince Lombardi.
Over 100 years later, the all-time great sports matchup is as strong as ever.
The Packers have more wins than the Bears all-time with a record of 103-95-6
Chicago was ahead of Green Bay with total wins for multiple decades, but the Packer’s great success and the Bears’ terrible play in the last 15 years gave the bad guys the opportunity to pull ahead in the all-time record. It’s been all Green Bay over the last decade, winning 23 of the last 26 and coming out victorious in the last eight straight
Chicago hasn’t come out on top of the Packers since 2018, securing the NFC North title with a 24-17 win. The bane of the Bears’ existence has been Aaron Rodgers, who infamously deflated the entire fanbase by shouting “I own you” in a Week 6 game that the Bears lost in 2021. Rodgers relinquished ownership of the Bears when he packed his bags for the Jets, so Chicago has an opening to swing the all-time record back in their favor over the next few years.
Justin Fields and Jordan Love will play each other for the first time in their career
The new era of Bears football is well underway with Justin Fields, and the Packers will be stepping out of the long shadow cast by Rodgers and begin again with a new signal-caller — Jordan Love. Week 1 will feature the first of what could be many battles between Fields and Love, and the contest should serve as a benchmark for where the two stand in their development.
Love is 0-1 in his lone career start, while Fields is 5-20. Love has a decent supporting cast that will help carry the offensive workload, and finally the same can be said for Fields. The two young, talented quarterbacks — who just happen to be friends — are on even ground. We’ll see who comes out on top.
The matchup marks the third season-opening game between the Bears and Packers since 2018
The NFL is always aiming to maximize viewership when creating the opening slate of football, and pitting the Bears against the Packers to continue the oldest rivalry in football accomplishes exactly that.
Having to watch Chicago play against their biggest adversary in Week 1 three times in the last five years used to be a nerve-wracking experience, but that feeling has subsided a bit this year. The green and gold boogeyman Aaron Rodgers has taken his talents to New York, suddenly making the playing field a lot more even. Regardless of its outcome, the contest will certainly be more competitive, which could encourage the NFL to continue the trend.
Bears had the top rushing offense last year; Packers ranked among worst rushing defenses
The Bears found the most success on offense last year through the run game, and that may continue to be a well the team can return to Week 1 against the Packers. Through the combination of former running back David Montgomery, Khalil Herbert and the explosive dual-threat ability of Fields, Chicago was crowned as the best running offense in the NFL.
The team conversely ranked as the worst passing offense in 2022 and, paired with a poor defense, couldn’t turn their knack for gaining yards on the ground with wins. Chicago may already see their fortune change against Green Bay, who ranked near the bottom of many rushing defense categories, including yards and touchdowns allowed.
While the fans would like to see Fields’ passing take a leap against their despised foe, a major key for the Bears to win will be a solid running attack.
The Bears lost 28-19 in their last meeting
With all this talk of history, you may be wondering what happened in the last game the Bears and Packers played against each other. Well, avert your eyes Chicago fans, because it didn’t go well. In classic Bears football fashion, the team fumbled a 19-10 lead in the fourth quarter, allowing Green Bay to go on a 18-0 run in the last quarter to get the win. The result of the contest didn’t mean much for either team; the Packers improved to 5-8 and the Bears continued to spiral to 3-10.
The real trophy here was bragging rights, which was awarded to the Packers — again. Fields led the team in rushing and passing, while going an ultra-efficient 20-25 in the latter. Rodgers had an uncharacteristically shaky game, throwing for only 182 yards and touchdown. The Packers’ burly running back AJ Dillon was the X-factor for the yellow and gold, running for 93 yards and a score.