After several disappointing seasons, there is a palpable buzz for the Chicago Bears as they prepare to take on the Green Bay Packers in their season opener on Sunday night.
The Bears went through a lot of changes in the offseason, hiring new head coach Matt Nagy, drafting explosive Georgia linebacker Roquan Smith, and acquiring defensive end Khalil Mack in a blockbuster trade with the Oakland Raiders.
The team also ginned up plenty of controversy with their handling of the preseason, in which players like second-year quarterback Mitchell Trubisky saw limited time on the field as they prepared for the grind of the 16-game regular season.
On Sunday, the questions surrounding the team will finally start to be answered as they take on their hated rivals at Lambeau Field.
Will Smith and Mack be able to play a large amount of snaps against the Packers, despite limited time on the practice field? Will Nagy’s system bear fruit despite not having much in-game honing on the part of Trubisky and company?
Those questions will continue to be asked through the early stages of the season, but there are also plenty of other questions surrounding the Packers as well.
For starters, will new acquisitions like Jimmy Graham be enough to withstand the losses of some of Aaron Rodgers’ favorite targets, including Jordy Nelson? Will the team’s offensive line, long a source of frustration for Packers fans as Rodgers routinely took a beating behind the line of scrimmage, be able to counter the Bears’ revamped pass rush?
Sunday’s game will be the 197th chapter in the storied rivalry between the two teams, and it has the makings of a potential narrative shift in the rivalry. The Packers, still considered to be Super Bowl contenders by many experts, now have to deal with a re-tooled Bears team that has its eyes set on big things after a tumultuous offseason, and the first game could provide a great glimpse into the directions the teams could head during the 2018 campaign.
Kick-off is scheduled for 7:20 p.m. Sunday night, and NBC 5 will have our very own preview show at 5:30 p.m. before Football Night in America. After the game, stay tuned to NBC 5 for “Sports Sunday” with Jeff Blanzy and Siafa Lewis.