The Bears kick off the 2015 regular season at Soldier Field against their old NFC North rivals, the Green Bay Packers. Here is the Week 1 Opponent Breakdown:
What's new: Head coach Mike McCarthy is not a new presence on the Packers sideline; 2015 will be McCarthy's 10th season at the helm of the green and gold. However, this year marks the first time McCarthy will not be the team's offensive play-caller. He gave up those duties following Green Bay's loss to Seattle in the NFC Championship Game in January. Tom Clements, an associate head coach and offensive assistant, will now call the plays for a Packers offense that averaged 6.17 yards per play a year ago – the highest average in the NFL.
What's old: Most of the names on the Green Bay roster are familiar ones to football followers. Of the 22 offensive and defensive starters for the Packers in the playoff defeat to the Seahawks, 19 of them are expected to be on the field Sunday versus the Bears (The three missing: cornerback Tramon Williams signed with Cleveland in free agency, defensive tackle Letroy Gulon is suspended and receiver Jordy Nelson is out for the season with a torn ACL.) That type of consistency has helped the Packers win 10 or more games in five of the last six seasons.
Last time out: Green Bay went 2-2 in the preseason, including a 38-10 victory over New Orleans on Sept. 3. Starting quarterback Aaron Rodgers was a spectator for the final two games, as he has not seen the field in game action since August 23. One of the stars of the preseason for the Packers was receiver Jeff Janis, a second-year player from Saginaw Valley State. Janis hauled in 10 receptions for 149 yards and three touchdowns in the four contests.
Series history: Chicago and Green Bay have been rivals since Nov. 27, 1921, when the Staleys topped the Packers 20-0 at Wrigley Field. The oldest rivalry in the NFL has seen 190 meetings, and the standings are close. The Bears hold a 92-90-6 lead in the regular season series (the teams split two all-time playoff matchups as well), but a dive inside the numbers show it's even tighter than the two-game cushion indicates. According to The MMQB's Peter King, the average score in the 188 regular season games is Bears 17.06, Packers 17.02. What's the difference between the two over the course of 94 years? Just one measly touchdown. The composite score in the series, all-time, is Chicago 3,207, Green Bay 3,200.
Injury report: Nelson, one of the three Packers starters from the 2014 playoffs that won't play against Chicago, is arguably the most important injury any NFL team suffered in the preseason. Nelson is one of the league's top receivers, with 98 receptions for 1,519 yards and 13 touchdowns a year ago. Wide receiver Randall Cobb (shoulder), left tackle David Bakhtiari (knee) and cornerback Micah Hyde (neck) also suffered preseason injuries, and their statuses for Week 1 are unknown.
Schemes and tendencies: Because of Nelson's absence, more attention in the Green Bay offense is likely to go towards Randall Cobb. One of the NFL's top slot receivers, Cobb has proven to be a nightmare matchup for whomever defensive coordinators chose to stick on him. But unlike Nelson, whose 6-foot-3 frame allows him to outmuscle defensive backs, the 5-foot-11 Cobb uses a different skill to torch opponents: elusiveness. Cobb had 1,287 receiving yards in 2014, and nearly half of them came after he caught the ball. His 618 yards after catch were fourth-most in the NFL among wide receivers, according to Sporting Charts. Few players in the league are more dangerous in the open field with the ball in their hands.
Did you know: The Packers are 52-39-3 all-time in season-opening games. That win total is the second most in NFL history. What is the only franchise with more victories in Week 1? That would be the Bears, who have won 54 openers.