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The Week Ahead: Bears gear up for Packers


One day after reaching the NFL's mandatory 53-man roster limit, the Bears return to the practice field Sunday to resume preparing for Thursday night's season opener against the Packers.

The defending Super Bowl champion usually hosts the NFL's Thursday night regular-season opener. But the Bears were given that honor this year because both they and the NFL are celebrating their 100th seasons.

Here's what lies ahead as the Bears prepare for this week's game:

• The Bears will begin defense of their first NFC North title since 2010. They clinched the division championship with a 24-17 win over the Packers last Dec. 16 at Soldier Field. In the process, they snapped an eight-game home losing streak to the Packers, eliminated Green Bay from playoff contention and avenged a disappointing season-opening loss at Lambeau Field. Mitchell Trubisky passed for 235 yards and two touchdowns with a 120.4 passer rating and Khalil Mack registered 2.5 of the Bears' five sacks of Aaron Rodgers.

• This year will mark the sixth time the Bears will play their season opener in prime time. They beat the Giants 34-19 in Chicago in 1987 and the Cowboys 22-6 in Chicago in 1996 and lost to the Packers 38-24 in Green Bay in 1997 on Monday Night Football. They also defeated the Colts 29-13 in Indianapolis in 2008 and lost to the Packers 21-15 in Green Bay in 2009 and again last year 24-23 on Sunday Night Football.

• This will be the 14th straight season the Bears will play the Packers in a prime-time game. Since 2006, the teams have met seven times on Sunday Night Football, three times on Monday Night Football and three times on Thursday Night Football. The Bears have played the Packers in Green Bay in prime time each of the past eight seasons. This year's opener will be the first night game between the two teams at Soldier Field since a 20-17 Bears win in 2010.

• This year will mark the 34th time the Bears will open the season against the Packers. The Bears are 17-14-2 in those games, losing the last three 21-15 in 2009, 31-23 in 2015 and 24-23 last year. The Bears last beat the Packers in a season opener in 2006 when they blanked Green Bay 26-0 in what was the only home shutout in quarterback Brett Favre's career with the Packers.

• A season-opening win over the Packers would give the Bears two straight victories over their longtime rivals for the first time since they swept the season series in 2007.

• will provide all the latest news throughout the week from Halas Hall. Coach Matt Nagy will address the media Sunday, Monday and Tuesday, quarterback Mitchell Trubisky will speak Sunday, and offensive coordinator Mark Helfrich, defensive coordinator Chuck Pagano and special-teams coordinator Chris Tabor will talk Monday.

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