The Chicago Bears host the Green Bay Packers Thursday night in the first regular-season game of the 2019 NFL season. The betting public is siding with Aaron Rodgers and Co., but the defending NFC North champions have a strong chance to start the year with a victory.

Chicago is a laying three points at home, according to the latest betting line at OddsShark. The point spread has moved in the direction of the visiting Packers, who were once four-point underdogs. The game total is 46.5.

The Bears were the much better team in the 2018 season, cruising to the division title with a 12-4 record before losing on Wild-Card Weekend. The Packers finished in third place with a disappointing 6-9-1 record, missing the playoffs for a second straight year.

There’s no question that the two rivals should be much closer in the standings in 2019. Chicago’s defense is bound to take a step back after ranking first in takeaways and points allowed. Don’t expect Rodgers to win fewer than 38 percent of his starts for a second straight season.

That doesn’t mean Green Bay is the better team, and winning at Soldier Field will prove to be difficult.

The Packers face plenty of questions heading into the season. First-year head coach Matt LaFleur is an unknown. It remains to be seen if his offense will be a significant upgrade over what Green Bay ran under Mike McCarthy in recent years. Beyond Davante Adams, the Packers don’t exactly have the league’s best group of playmakers.

Very few offenses are going to look good against Chicago this season, even when taking into account the regression that’s sure to come for the defense. The Bears still have the NFC’s best edge rusher in Khalil Mack as well as Pro Bowl defensive end Akiem Hicks. Second-year linebacker Roquan Smith could be primed for a Pro Bowl season. Eddie Jackson leads an elite secondary.

Khalil Mack Chicago Bears
Khalil Mack #52 of the Chicago Bears encourages the crowd to cheer during a game against the Green Bay Packers at Soldier Field on December 16, 2018 in Chicago, Illinois. Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

Rodgers and the Packers struggled mightily in last year’s visit to Soldier Field. The quarterback was sacked five times when Green Bay played in Chicago in Week 15, completing fewer than 60 percent of his passes with no touchdowns and an interception. Chicago won 24-17 in a game during which they never trailed.

Green Bay was lucky to split their 2018 season series with Chicago. The Packers pulled out one of the season’s most improbable victories when a hobbled Rodgers led them back from a 20-0 second-half deficit to win 24-23 in the opener.

That was Matt Nagy’s first game as a head coach. Mitchell Trubisky had only started 12 games in his NFL career.

Rookie head coaches went 0-5 in Week 1 last season.

Only two road teams have won the annual NFL Kickoff Game in the last 16 years. Of those 14 home victories, only one has come by fewer than three points.

Chicago went 7-1 at home in the 2018 regular season, only losing to the eventual Super Bowl champion New England Patriots. Green Bay was 1-7 on the road with their lone victory away from Lambeau Field coming in overtime against the four-win New York Jets in Week 16.

Trubisky had a 97.2 passer rating at home in his sophomore campaign, including a 120.4 rating when Chicago hosted Green Bay. He’ll find some success as he kicks off his second season in Nagy’s system against a Packers’ defense that is perennially mediocre.

This isn’t the same Bears’ team that Rodgers has dominated for most of his career. Don’t be afraid to lay the field goal with Chicago.

Prediction Against The Spread: Chicago over Green Bay, 26-17