Chicago Bears Poised to Tackle Green Bay Packers in NFL's Oldest Rivalry

'Big Cat' and the Bears returns Monday

The Chicago Bears kick off the 2015 NFL season at noon this Sunday at home against division rivals the Green Bay Packers. After a dismal 5-11 outing in 2014, new head coach John Fox and general manager Ryan Pace were brought in to pick up the pieces. The Bears will take the field on Sunday with a lot to prove.

Before you Bear down, get the low down on some facts about matchups between these Midwest giants.

  • Sunday marks the 191st game between the Bears and Packers. The home team holds a 93-91-6 edge in the series, which includes two playoff games (1-1)
  • The matchup is just the third time the season opener has been played in Chicago (the other games were in 1979 and 1981).The Packers hold the NFL record for most wins (53) in road openers
  • Of the six times the two teams have faced off in Week 1, the Packers have won four of those games
  • The game marks the 53rd time the two teams have played against each other in the month of September, with both teams recording 24 wins (24-24-4). Of those games, only seven were held in Chicago
  • Both Chicago and Green Bay are the only teams in the NFL with 50-plus wins on Kickoff Weekend. The Bears lead the league with 54 victories in Week 1, while the Packers have 52 wins in Week 1

Here are a few quick glimpses of the Bears’ 2015 team:

Offense

Despite losing play-making wide receiver Brandon Marshall, quarterback Jay Cutler still has plenty of offensive targets to throw to, including veteran tight end Martellus Bennett, who led all NFL tight ends with 90 receptions last season; third-year receiver Alshon Jeffery, who is coming off of back-to-back 1,000 yard seasons; and newly acquired wide receiver Eddie Royal, who played with Cutler as a rookie in 2008 with the Denver Broncos (Cutler’s only Pro Bowl season thus far during his nine-year career).

In order to allow Cutler more time to throw the ball, new offensive line coach Dave Magazu has shown that he’s not afraid to shuffle the deck. Magazu will start right guard Kyle Long, who has made it to the Pro Bowl in each of his two NFL seasons with the Bears, to right tackle against the Packers.

Entering his eighth season, running back Matt Forte is braced to handle the bulk of the carries. With 443 career receptions and 3,727 receiving yards, Forte always poses a dual-threat as a pass-catcher out of the backfield. Rookie Jeremy Langford, who is coming off an impressive pre-season campaign, and former Atlanta Falcon Jacquizz Rodgers will provide support for Forte and should offer more depth to the running back position in 2015.

Defense

The Bears defense looks almost unrecognizable with linebacker Lance Briggs, cornerback Charles Tillman and two-time Pro-Bowl cornerback Tim Jennings out of the mix. New defensive coordinator Vic Fangio has installed a fresh 3-4 defense scheme, but it remains to be seen if the Bears have the talent to pull it off.

Starting the season without defensive lineman Jeremiah Ratcliff, who will miss three games—all against 2014 NFC playoff teams— due to a suspension, the Bears defensive line appears to have some holes to fill.

Third-year outside linebacker and former Baltimore Raven, Pernell McPhee enters the Bears squad with high hopes and will work with Jared Allen, who will be making the switch to outside linebacker from defensive end. Formerly a member of division foe the Minnesota Vikings, Allen has led the NFL with 134 total sacks since he entered the league in 2004, and he is going to have to step up his game in his second season with the Bears for their defense to thrive.


Big Cat and the Bears

Chicago Tonight’s Big Cat and the Bears returns this season. On Monday, Former Bear James “Big Cat” Williams and Ann Kreiter will break down the team’s season opener against the Packers.

Tune in at 7 p.m. on Monday for their analysis.

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In January, the Chicago Bears hired John Fox, former head coach for the Denver Broncos, as the team’s 15th head coach. Fox is the first head coach hired by the Chicago Bears who has previous experience as a head coach (with the exception of George Halas).

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