The oldest rivalry in the NFL, the Bears and Packers matchup has undoubtedly lost some of its shine.

Even if we, as Bears fans, do not want to admit it, the truth is the Packers have owned us. 

You may want to skip this paragraph for your mental sanity. The last time the Bears defeated the Packers, Mitch Trubisky threw the go-ahead touchdown pass to Trey Burton, and Cody Parkey made the extra point. That was 2018. It has now been 10 straight wins for the Packers, tying their own longest winning streak in this rivalry’s history. 

As much as it pains me to say, the saying is true that there is no rivalry if one team wins every time. Do not get me wrong; I probably convinced myself that the Bears would win each of those last 10 games. That is just part of being a die-hard (maybe slightly delusional) sports fan.

I hope I am not wrong about what would feel like the millionth time, but it truly feels like good times are coming for the Bears. Most experts have the Bears and Packers in a toss-up for second place in the NFC North this season behind the Lions. This is not for no reason. There is a belief around the league and Chicago that the Bears will be seriously competitive.


Let’s take a look at what the future holds for this once, all-time great rivalry.


Quarterback

Currently, it appears the Packers have found their third consecutive franchise quarterback in Jordan Love. It is early in his career, but all signs point to him being an NFL star if he isn’t already. In his first full season as a starter, Love dragged a Packers team that was not supposed to be competitive all the way to the playoffs. Love threw for over 4,000 yards with 32 touchdowns, which would easily qualify for the best single season by a quarterback in Bears history. 

As for Caleb Williams, obviously, it is nearly impossible to project how well he did in his rookie season. However, we can go off of what we know for facts. Williams comes into an offense stacked with weapons and an elite defense that wants to win now. This is a rare situation for a “generational” quarterback to walk into. Gambling odds reflect this as Williams’ passing yards prop is currently set at 3,450.5 while his passing touchdowns prop is around 23.5. Williams is also a massive favorite to win Offensive Rookie of the Year. With these numbers, Williams would have the 5th most passing yards in a single season for the Bears.

Assuming Williams even comes close to those numbers, that would be enough to give Bears fans hope and confidence for the future. This is because it should be expected he only gets better and grows with each season. The quarterback battles in this rivalry’s future are poised to be great.


Rest of Offense

Notable Bears Signed For 3+ Seasons (Free Agency Year) – 

D’Andre Swift (2027), Darnell Wright (2027; team option for 2028), Rome Odunze (2028), Cole Kmet (2028), Kiran Amegadjie (2028)

Just from this list, the Bears really may not have many needs on the offensive side of the ball in the future. Caleb Williams’ contract should go through 2029 as well. If all goes well, the Bears will have their generational quarterback, two cornerstone tackles, a top-ten tight end, along with an elite receiver through 2027. The most obvious need is interior lineman, which should be addressed via future drafts or free agency. Swift should be able to maintain the starting running back position through his contract. However, I would not expect him around after that due to the current state of the running back market.

As for receivers, Keenan Allen only has this season on his contract, and I personally do not expect an extension. I sense Ryan Poles would rather keep D.J. Moore around for the long term, thus making him the receiver to get paid handsomely when his contract ends in two seasons. Along with Odunze, this duo could be great for a long time. 

Notable Packers Signed For 3+ Seasons (Free Agency Year) – 

Elgton Jenkins (2027), Luke Musgrave (2027), Jayden Reed (2027), Josh Jacobs (2028), Jordan Morgan (2029)

Regarding Love, all signs point to him signing a massive extension before his rookie contract ends. It is safe to assume he is their quarterback of the future. Through 2026, the Packers will have their quarterback, two solid linemen, a tight end, and a solid receiver. Like the Bears, their future needs seem to be on the line with another tackle and some interior help. At running back, Jacobs should provide all that is needed at the position until his contract ends. Similar to Swift, I would not expect Jacobs to play in Green Bay past this contract. However, he is signed for a year longer than Swift. Weapon-wise, the Packers do have a nice core; however, they have lacked a true #1 since Davante Adams left. If they do happen to bring in that type of guy, they could be considered Super Bowl contenders. 

For right now, I will give the overall offensive edge to the Packers. This is simply because we have not had a real chance to see Williams play with his new squad. If the Bears come out on fire in week one, I will change this answer immediately. Regarding the future, it does feel like the Bears have the edge with the quality of players they have contract control over for the next multiple years. If Amegadjie develops into a solid player, this answer will be obvious with two stalwart tackles. Regardless, there is clear hope that Williams can restore this once-historic rivalry and bring happiness back to Bears fans.


Defense

Notable Bears Signed For 3+ Seasons (Free Agency Year) – 

Tyrique Stevenson (2027), Gervon Dexter (2027), Tremaine Edmunds (2027), Montez Sweat (2028), Jaylon Johnson (2028)

The Bears will have at least one “very good” player at all three levels of the defense through 2026. If Stevenson and Dexter continue to progress with more playing time, they are prime candidates to be extended. The trio of Edmunds, Sweat, and Johnson being locked up for at least three years is a good feeling, as they are the leaders. Some future needs may include outside linebackers, safeties, and defensive tackle. On the line, Sweat will remain with potential hope that Austin Booker can turn into another edge threat. Expect some ramp-up in the future to address the tackle position.

The linebacker core is strong, but T.J. Edwards will likely earn a big payday from another organization when his contract expires in two years. This will create a hole at outside linebacker, and it should be addressed sooner rather than later. In the secondary, I think Johnson and Stevenson could truly turn into one of the best corner duos in the league. I would not expect Kyler Gordon to sign an extension, as he has primarily been underwhelmed and could ask for a lot of money.

It will be interesting to see how they handle Jaquan Brisker’s contract. I love Brisker’s playstyle and ferocity; however, I can see why others may think he is not worth extending. He does seem to have in-game injury issues and has had instances of blown coverage. I also would not expect Byard to play past his contract with the Bears due to his age. So, in the future, look for the Bears to seek safety help in their secondary.  

Notable Packers Signed For 3+ Seasons (Free Agency Year) –

Jaire Alexander (2027), Preston Smith (2027), Xavier McKinney (2028), Javon Bullard (2028), Rashan Gary (2028), Lukas Van Ness (2028)

Similar to the Bears, the Packers do have some solid pieces on all three levels for the long term. Up front, the trio of Smith, Gary, and Van Ness does have the potential to be one of the best rushing attacks in the league. They do lack a true interior lineman and middle linebacker in the future. Kenny Clark is aging and expecting a big contract, so his time in Green Bay may be coming to an end soon. In the secondary, the most interesting contract is Alexander’s. He has proven to be an elite corner and will likely ask for a monster payday. I do not know how much the Packers will be willing to spend after Love inks his looming extension. They do appear to have safety covered with the duo of McKinney, and Bullard signed for the long term. So, in the future, expect the Packers to improve on the interior line, middle linebacker core, and corner position.

Besides the new safeties and defensive coordinator in Green Bay, these defenses are relatively the same as last season. Based on that, the Bears deserve the current edge. Last season, they led the league in rushing yards allowed and tied for the most interceptions. The Packers’ defense had their moments last year and was a fairly effective squad against the pass. However, many believe the defense was the team’s shortcoming as they replaced their defensive coordinator. Regarding the future, I think the Bears own the edge here, too.

The impact of having two superstars like Johnson and Sweat locked in for four years can not be understated. Singlehandedly, these guys can change the outcomes of games with their impact. I feel the Packers’ defense is in a similar situation to the Bears’ offense, as we may just have to wait and see how they truly develop. The Bears’ quality of talent in the future provides them the edge.


In conclusion, the rivalry feels back, essentially thanks to Ryan Poles. I would project some of the greatest battles in the rivalry’s history will occur within the next few seasons. Beyond that, the quarterback play of Williams and Love should set up for a decade of thrilling moments, heartbreak, and celebration for both sides. NFC North football is fun again.

PHOTO: Athlon Sports

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