The Green Bay Packers and Chicago Bears renew the NFL’s oldest and longest rivalry when they meet for the 193rd time on Thursday night (7:25, CBS). Incredibly, it’s the rubber match.
The series, which began in 1921, is a dead-level tie at 93-93-6 in regular-season play. A mere 16 points separates the teams over the life of the rivalry, as Green Bay holds a slight 3,300-3,284 edge in scoring.
Recent history favors the Packers, as Aaron Rodgers is 13-3 against the Bears since his second year as the Green Bay starter in 2009. The Packers swept both meetings last season and have won 34 of the last 46 matchups.
The teams first met in Chicago on November 27, 1921, the Packers’ first season in the NFL and the hosts’ second year in the Windy City after moving from Decatur. Still known as the “Staleys,” Chicago won 20-0.
Chicago was also the opponent in the dedication of the new City Stadium in Green Bay on September 29, 1957, when the Packers scored in the fourth to pull out a 21-17 victory. The facility was renamed Lambeau Field in 1965.
During Vince Lombardi’s nine sparkling years in Green Bay, the Packers rolled to a 13-5 mark over the Bears, one of many big runs in the series from either team. Green Bay also ripped off eighteen wins in twenty meetings with the Bears between 1994-2003.
The Packers, though, have struggled against the Bears during down times in the franchise’s history. Green Bay never finished above .500 from 1948-58 and won only four of twenty-two meetings with Chicago during that period. The Bears were also 12-2 against Green Bay from 1985-91.
The fierce rivalry reached new heights in the 1980s, particularly in a 61-7 Chicago rout on December 7, 1980. On October 21, 1985, Bears coach Mike Ditka infamously used mammoth William “Refrigerator” Perry as a running back on a scoring play in a 23-7 Chicago win. The next year, former Packer lineman Forrest Gregg took over as head coach, and the rivalry remained bitter because of his personal feud with Ditka.
Oddly, Bears legend George Halas, who coached the team for forty years in four stints between 1920-67, formed a close relationship with Green Bay at times. During the depths of the Great Depression, Halas borrowed $1,500 from the Packers to meet his Bears payroll. Halas also supported the proposal to build the new City Stadium in Green Bay in the 1950s.
The teams have only met twice in postseason play, beginning with a 33-14 Bears win in a divisional playoff game in 1941. Green Bay won 21-14 in the NFC title game in Chicago on January 23, 2011 on their way to their fourth Super Bowl title and league-high 13th NFL championship. Green Bay has a 12-5-2 advantage in pre-season play over Chicago, with the last meeting in 1984.
Thursday night’s game will be the 22nd prime-time matchup between the Packers and Bears. Chicago holds a 6-5 edge on Monday Night Football, while the Packers have won five of six all-time meetings on Sunday night, including a memorable 55-14 drubbing of the Bears in Green Bay on November 9, 2014. The teams have split four previous meetings on Thursday night, the last a 26-10 Green Bay win at Lambeau on October 20, 2016.
Tom Emery is a freelance writer and historical researcher from Carlinville.