Baltimore Ravens (4-5) at Chicago Bears (5-4)
This is one I could go either way on. Both teams are in good spots and distraction free. The Ravens host the Jets next week and will be favored, while the Bears go to St. Louis and will be favored. Non-divisional home favorites are 69-47 ATS since 2008 before being non-divisional road dogs and non-divisional road dogs are 98-63 ATS before being non-divisional home favorites.
These two teams are also as evenly matched as they come. Baltimore has a horrible offense that is moving the chains at a 68% rate, but their defense is holding opponents to 68% as well. Chicago has a horrible defense that allows opponents to move the chains at a 77% rate, but their offense moves the chains at a 77% rate. They are 16th and 15th respectively in rate of moving the chains differential and this line at 3 makes perfect sense. We’re not getting any line value with either side.
Chicago is dealing with crippling injuries. Before the season, the Bears had 6 above average or better starters, Julius Peppers, Henry Melton, Lance Briggs, Tim Jennings, Charles Tillman, and Major Wright. Henry Melton is already out for the season. Charles Tillman is now out until the playoffs, if they can make them. Lance Briggs is out indefinitely. None of those guys were playing up to their ability before going down anyway. Julius Peppers is showing his age and Major Wright is regressing in a major way.
Their defense could get worse going forward, which would put even more pressure on their offense, which is also dealing with a serious injury as Jay Cutler is out. Josh McCown has played well in Cutler’s absence, arguably as good as Cutler could have, completing 60.0% of his passes for an average of 7.69 YPA, 4 touchdowns, and no interceptions. There are no guarantees he can keep that up though, given his career numbers (58.7%, 6.37 YPA, 41 touchdowns, 44 interceptions), despite the strong offensive supporting cast and coaching staff.
Baltimore, however, has been absolutely awful on the road thus far this season, going 1-4, losing in Cleveland, Pittsburgh, and Buffalo, while getting blown out in Denver. This isn’t a new trend. Since 2010, they are 26-4 at home, but 18-17 on the road. At the end of the day, I’m going to fade the Ravens on the road, but I’m not confident in Chicago at all. This is the biggest toss up of the week for me.
Chicago Bears 24 Baltimore Ravens 20
Pick against spread: Chicago -3