Bears kick off historic NFL campaign with Super hopes

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As the NFL celebrates its 100th season, the Chicago Bears fittingly take the field against their arch-rival Green Bay Packers Thursday night at Soldier Field with lofty ambitions.

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While the sting has subsided from last January’s heartbreaking home playoff loss to the Philadelphia Eagles, the memories remain. The Bears have spent the offseason searching for a kicker and retooling a running game that figures to be prominent beginning with the season opener.

Chicago returns almost all of last year’s key players that brought an NFC North Division championship to the Windy City, including a stellar defense headlined by

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All-Pro Khalil Mack and Pro Bowlers Akiem Hicks, Kyle Fuller, and Eddie Jackson. Former Indianapolis Colts head coach Chuck Pagano’s transition to taking over for Vic Fangio appears seamless.

On offense, Mitch Trubisky will be asked to take the next step in his quarterback progression, namely displaying the ability to go from a caretaker role to a dangerous playmaker. Entering his third year, Trubisky has shown glimpses of becoming a dual threat. He’ll be joined in the backfield by newcomers Mike Davis and rookie David Montgomery, though Montgomery should become the feature back early in the year given his skill set.

Against the backdrop of pomp and circumstance with the NFL’s centennial season, the Bears face a nemesis in Aaron Rodgers and the Packers that has been tough to beat. Green Bay comes into the opener with a fresh look, as former Titans offensive coordinator and Sean McVay disciple Matt LaFleur takes over the head coaching reigns from longtime fixture Mike McCarthy.

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