Bears/Pack­ers: NFL’s old­est ri­valry opens 100th sea­son

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The NFL goes old school this week as it opens its 100th sea­son, kick­ing things off with a ri­valry that’s al­most as old as the league it­self.

Thurs­day, Sept. 5, on NBC, a clash of NFC North ad­ver­saries is on tap as Aaron Rodgers leads the Green Bay Pack­ers onto the hos­tile turf of Sol­dier Field to face Mitch Tru­bisky and the Chicago Bears. This will be the 199th time th­ese teams meet in their his­tory, with the Pack own­ing a 97-95-6 edge go­ing head-to-head in reg­u­lar and post­sea­son play.

The ri­valry be­gan in 1921 when the Pack­ers de­feated what was then known as the Chicago Sta­leys (named for the team’s own­ers, the A.E. Sta­ley food starch com­pany) 20-0. Since then, there have been blowouts (most no­tably, a 61-7 Bears vic­tory in 1980), high-scor­ing af­fairs (a 52-31 Bears win in ‘55) and a few shutouts, in­clud­ing a 0-0 dou­ble blank­ing in 1932. There have also been mem­o­rable in­di­vid­ual per­for­mances like Brett Favre’s 99-yard touch­down pass to Robert Brooks in 1995 and Rodgers’ six TD game in 2014.

Of course, long­stand­ing ri­val­ries also have bad blood and this one is no ex­cep­tion. The most no­table came in 1985, when the Pack­ers left horse ma­nure in the Bears’ locker room at Lam­beau Field. The Bears would go on to win that game, 16-10, and the Su­per Bowl later that year.

As for this game, it’s the chance for the Bears to prove that last year’s worst-to-first 12-4 2018 sea­son was no fluke and for former first-round draft pick Tru­bisky to con­tinue his de­vel­op­ment at QB. Stal­warts such as Ed­die Jack­son, Kyle Fuller, Ro­quan Smith and Akiem Hicks will re­turn to man a de­fense that ranked third over­all in the NFL in ‘18.

For the Pack­ers, it’s the be­gin­ning of a new era un­der rookie coach Matt LaFleur, as the team will try to rebound from a 6-9-1 2018 record and back-to-back seasons out of the play­offs. Toward that end, free agents Za’Dar­ius Smith, Pre­ston Smith and Adrian Amos have been im­ported to bol­ster a de­fense that lost Clay Matthews dur­ing the off­sea­son, while former two-time MVP Rodgers is once again healthy and ex­pected to bounce back in a big way in 2019.

It’s foot­ball like it oughta be for the Thurs­day Night Kick­off, as only an age-old NFC North bat­tle can pro­vide.

Aaron Rodgers

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