The 2019 NFL football season kicks off on Thursday night with a clash of NFC North rivals as the Chicago Bears play host to the Green Bay Packers as 3-point home favorites on the NFL betting odds.
Chicago returns to action amid high expectations after finishing atop the division standings last season with a 12-4 straight-up record, and sits just shy of the favorites as a +1400 wager on the Super Bowl odds going into Thursday night’s matchup at Soldier Field.
The Bears powered their run to their first division title since 2010 with exceptional play on home turf, racking up a 7-1 SU record during the regular season, with their lone defeat coming in Week 7, a 38-31 loss to the eventual Super Bowl champion New England Patriots while pegged as 2-point home underdogs on the NFL lines.
That defeat also featured the most points that the otherwise stingy Bears surrendered in a game over the course of the 2018 NFL campaign. Led by linebacker Khalil Mack, the Chicago defense emerged as the best in the NFL last season, surrendering just 17.7 points per game overall, and held opponents to 10 or fewer points in three of their eight home contests.
Mack enjoyed another standout campaign despite being limited to just 14 games and seeing little action in the team’s meaningless 24-10 win at Minnesota in Week 17. The three-time First Team All-Pro racked up 12.5 sacks on the season and enters Thursday night’s contest sporting short +500 odds of claiming NFL Defensive Player of the Year honors for the second time in his career.
The Bears offense will once again be led by quarterback Mitch Trubisky, who enjoyed a breakthrough in his second season under center in Chicago, throwing for 3,223 yards and 24 touchdowns. The 25-year-old is listed as a strong -140 wager on the NFL odds to throw for OVER 25.5 scores in 2019. But despite returning to action with one of the NFL’s best rosters, Chicago sports the longest odds of any divisional favorite, edging out the Packers as a +160 bet to repeat as NFC North champions.
Underdog Packers Have Something to Prove in 2019
While the Bears look to take the next step towards ending a 34-year Super Bowl drought, the Packers return to action with a lot to prove after closing out last season with a 6-9-1 record, marking the first time the team has finished outside the NFL playoff picture in consecutive seasons since 2006.
The Packers particularly struggled in the second half of 2018, going 3-7 over their final 10 games, including a 24-17 Week 15 loss in Chicago as 5.5-point underdogs on the NFL betting odds.
With that loss, Green Bay saw a five-game SU win streak against the Bears snapped. The Packers had also regularly dominated in previous visits to Soldier Field, going 8-0 SU in their eight previous road dates with the Bears, while covering the NFL spread in seven of those contests.
Despite the struggles of the past two seasons, optimism reigns in Green Bay. The Packers return to action under new head coach Matt LaFleur, and spent big on the free agent market, handing lucrative deals to linebackers Za’Darius Smith and Preston Smith, safety Adrian Amos, and offensive lineman Billy Turner.
However, as has been the case for over a decade, Green Bay’s chances of a return to contention, and of paying out on +195 odds to win the NFC North, hinge on the continued good health and steady performance of veteran quarterback Aaron Rodgers.
The 35-year-old saw action in all 16 games last season after being limited by injuries to just seven appearances in 2017, and opens the season listed as a +1400 wager on the odds to be named NFL MVP.
*Odds as of September 5, 2019