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Packers-Bears matchups fit just right

Posted Apr 19, 2018

One to open historic 100th season, the other in December cold


GREEN BAY – For a historic season, the NFL’s most historic rivalry is slotted where it should be.

It’s not just that the 197th Packers-Bears meeting will kick off Green Bay’s 100th season in prime time at Lambeau Field, though it’s fitting and highly appropriate.

The placement of the 198th meeting, late in the season, is a good call, too.

The Week 1 matchup is the right way to start this milestone season of Packers football. The Packers were already planning a big Celebration Weekend for the opener, with a free concert and visiting alumni from various eras.

What better way to top off all the festivities than with the Packers and Bears clashing under the lights at Lambeau. Heck, when those alumni invitations go out, why not send some to Bears alums too?

It would be pretty cool to see Dick Butkus and Mike Ditka walk out of the Lambeau Field tunnel one more time to soak up the not-so-friendly reception. They’d be good sports about it, right?

Or how about some memorable Bears players who eventually played for the Packers, like Jim McMahon and “Mongo” Steve McMichael?

OK, maybe that’s taking things a little too far, but starting the celebration of the 100th season with the rivalry to beat all rivalries is the way to go, no matter what ancillary plans go along with it.

The second matchup of 2018 resides in a good spot as well – in the December cold. In this particular case, it’s Week 15 at Soldier Field.

There’s something about the Packers and Bears playing in the cold, the type of atmosphere that’s been lost with Green Bay’s other division rivals as the Vikings and Lions have played their home games indoors for several decades now.

The ol’ black-and-blue division conjures up cold weather, so it’s good to see another Packers-Bears late-season clash.

The league had started to get away from it, unfortunately. This will mark only the second time in the last five years the Packers and Bears will meet in December.

Prior to that, they played at least one December game, either in Green Bay or Chicago, for 16 straight seasons (1998-2013), a streak that culminated with the memorable Rodgers-to-Cobb TD on fourth-and-8 from the 48 at Soldier Field to win the NFC North.

The 2010 regular-season finale to get Green Bay into the playoffs, setting up the rematch for the NFC title three weeks later, is forever memorable, too.

It was the kind of ritual you don’t appreciate until it’s gone. The Packers and Bears didn’t play in December in 2014 or ’15, or last year.

The rain on Thanksgiving night in 2015 just didn’t feel like Packers-Bears and dampened, no pun intended, the addition of Brett Favre’s No. 4 to the Lambeau façade. It would have been much better to see the mist of Favre’s frozen breath during the halftime ceremony than to see him holding an umbrella.

Then, lo and behold, the 2016 game in Chicago was back in December again, and it came down to a last-second heave from Rodgers to Jordy Nelson to set up the winning field goal and keep the Packers’ “run the table” drive alive.

Who knows what will or won’t be at stake on Dec. 16 at Soldier Field this season, or for that matter, how much impact the Week 1 result will have on the big picture.

But what matters on this day is in Season 100, the Packers-Bears games are in good spots. Here’s to next year’s milestone 200th meeting getting proper treatment, too.

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