Packers-Bears Rivalry Turning the Big 2-0-0
GREEN BAY, Wis. – The 100th NFL season kicked off with the Green Bay Packers playing at the Chicago Bears. On Sunday at Lambeau Field, these longtime rivals will play for the 200th time.
The Packers lead the series 98-95-6 because of more than a quarter-century of dominance at quarterback. Since the start of the 1992 season – Brett Favre’s first full season as the starter – Green Bay is a resounding 41-15 against their Bears. Favre’s successor, Aaron Rodgers, is 18-5 – a record that includes a loss in the 2013 game at Lambeau Field, when he sustained a broken collarbone on the opening series.
“It means this rivalry’s been around a long time before I got here and it’s going to be around a long time after I’m done, I bet,” Rodgers said. “It’s been fun to be a part of so many of them. It’s a great rivalry for the game. Obviously, the history of that, it’s nice to be on the other side now. I know when Favrey started back in the early ‘90s, we were on the other side of this rivalry.”
That Green Bay leads the rivalry is amazing. From the Staleys’ 20-0 victory in the inaugural game on Nov. 27, 1921, through the final year of Scooter McLean’s one-year disaster of 1958, the Bears held an overwhelming 48-25-5 advantage in the series. Vince Lombardi arrived on the scene in 1959 and turned the tables, with the Glory Years-era Packers going 13-5 against Chicago. However, the Bears dominated during most of Mike Ditka’s tenure. From 1983 through 1991, Chicago won 14 of 17 games before Favre arrived on the scene.
“It’s nice to be up by three,” Rodgers said.
The rivalry is nowhere near as bitter as it was when the coaches were George Halas or Vince Lombardi, or Ditka or Forrest Gregg. Today, with Matt LaFleur in his first season with the Packers and Matt Nagy in his second year with the Bears, the rivalry is more between the fans than it is the players.
“It’s always big Chicago against lil’ Green Bay. Lil’ Green Bay has held its own for a long time,” Rodgers said.
Some of the luster of the rivalry has disappeared because of Green Bay’s dominance in the matchups and in the standings over the last 27 years. Rare has been the time when both teams have been good at the same time. Since 1964, both teams have made the playoffs in the same year just three times: 1994, 2001 and 2010, when the Packers beat the Bears in Chicago in the NFC Championship Game. Last year, when Chicago surged from worst to first in the NFC North, the Packers won only six games – their fewest since 2008.
On Sunday, the Packers (10-3) have a chance to clinch a playoff berth. The Bears (7-6) are mathematically alive and playing better with a three-game winning streak, but the reality in the juggernaut NFC is they’re more in spoiler mode than anything.
“I think we all know, both teams and both cities, know how important it is,” Nagy said in a conference call. “Anybody that’s not a part of it understands it, so we all realize that it’s a division game, it’s a big rivalry. We have a lot of respect for them as a football team and where they’re at. Coach LaFleur’s done a really good job this year leading them for his first year, so I have a lot of respect for that. I don’t think it takes anybody telling these guys. They all understand it’s a rivalry game within the division and it’s toward the end of the season.”