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Bears vs. Packers Gambling Preview

NFC North Opener

Sunday Night Football – Bears at Packers

After a full afternoon of football, don’t think for a minute the action is over and done with. There is still money to be made on Sunday night, as the Packers and Bears will square off from Lambeau Field in Green Bay. The hosts are a 3-1/2 point favorite and backed by nearly 70% of bettors at Sportsbook.com.

Be sure to visit the BETTING TRENDS page for the latest breakdown, then click on the LIVE ODDS button to see all of the exciting prop wagers available for this rivalry contest.

Now, more on the game…

Two fierce rivals will square off on Sunday night game when the Packers host the Bears in a NFC North dual. Green Bay, coming off a 6-10 season in which it set the record for most losses by four points or less (seven), is a 3-point favorite. QB Aaron Rodgers, off a big first season as starter, looked very sharp in the preseason, as did the defense, which switched from 4-3 to 3-4 under new DC Dom Capers. The Bears were 9-7 in ’08, but have high hopes from the acquisition of QB Jay Cutler. Strangely, the Chicago offense actually outperformed the defense last year though. Green Bay is 13-5 ATS in divisional play under Mike McCarthy. HC Lovie Smith’s team is on a 1-4 SU & ATS skid on the road, but visitors in this rivalry own a 13-7 SU & 13-6 ATS edge since ’99.

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Who would’ve guessed Green Bay’s defense would struggle more than its offense in its first season without Brett Favre since 1992? The Packers allowed 380 points—tying their most in a season since 1986—and yielded an average of 28.1 per game in 10 defeats. Now they’re switching to a 3-4 under former Carolina and Houston head coach Dom Capers.

At least the defense’s finest performance of 2008 came against the hated Bears at Lambeau Field, the site of this year’s Sunday night opener. Chicago managed only nine first downs and 234 total yards in a 37-3 blowout victory in Week 11 for the Packers, who didn’t win again until they sealed Detroit’s winless season in the finale. The Bears turned the table on Green Bay in Week 16, winning 20-17, but also missed the playoffs thanks to a season-ending loss in Houston.

Someone often compared to Favre—Jay Cutler—was the biggest impact player to change uniforms during the offseason and makes his debut for the Bears after they gave up Kyle Orton and a pair of first-round draft picks to Denver to get him. Cutler, the 11th overall pick of the 2006 draft, gives Chicago great potential for its best air attack in decades. In his last of three seasons with the Broncos he passed for 4,526 yards, ranking third in the league, and 25 touchdowns with 18 interceptions. He has 54 career touchdowns in 37 starts and will be eager to show he was worth the price.

Cutler wouldn’t mind opening 2009 the way Aaron Rodgers did ’08. The latter became the first person not named Favre to start at quarterback for Green Bay in 254 games and scored the winning touchdown against Minnesota. Rodgers went on to throw for 4,038 yards and 28 touchdowns with 13 interceptions for a 93.8 rating.

Chicago’s pass defense has been a sore spot in each of the past two seasons. In 2008, only Seattle and San Diego gave up more yards through the air than the Bears, who did manage to rank tied for third in the NFL in interceptions with 22. A bright spot was Kevin Payne (88 tackles, four interceptions), who flourished in his first year as the starting strong safety.

PREDICTION

Green Bay has looked in a word, “super”, in the preseason, particularly QB Aaron Rodgers and the new 3-4 defense under DC Dom Capers. The Packers’ first units have looked ready for the regular season. I can’t say I’ve thought the same when watching the Bears. It’s quite obvious to me that they are still in the process of working QB Jay Cutler into the mix. Rodgers meanwhile, is quite comfortable in his now clearly defined role as leader of the Pack. He should have a field day against a Bears’ defense that ranked 30th against the pass in ’08. Add in the fact that HC Mike McCarthy’s teams have done very well in divisional play in his tenure. The bottom line is this: One team in this matchup looks much more prepared for the season to begin. At home and laying just 3-1/2-points, that seems like a no-brainer to me.

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