Chicago Bears (4-3) at Green Bay Packers (5-3)
The Packers have been so dominant at home over the past few seasons that they’re almost an automatic bet at home. They are 22-8 ATS at home since 2010. They are large favorites here at -11, but that’s not an issue. They are 9-4 ATS as double digit home favorites in that time frame. Besides, they definitely deserve to be favored by at least 11 points. In fact, this line might even be too low, before you even take into account their home dominance.
After they started the year 1-2, the Packers are now 5-2. They are moving the chains at an 81% rate, as opposed to 71% for their opponents, the 2nd best differential in the NFL. 4 of their first 7 games, including their 2 losses, came against top-15 teams in my Power Rankings. Their schedule gets easier down the stretch and things will only get better as they get guys back from injuries.
They are still missing significant parts of their team for this game, but they draft and player develop so well that they have enough depth to make up for it. Guys like Jamari Lattimore have stepped up big time when needed. They’ve blown out their last 2 opponents, including a win in Minnesota last week in which they accumulated 26 first downs and didn’t punt once. They have another chance to get a blowout victory here against an inferior opponent and I think they have a very good chance to do so here this week.
The Bears are 4-3, but they are not as good as their record. They rank 16th in rate of moving the chains differential, moving the chains at a 77% rate and allowing opponents to do the same. Their once dominant defense has been horrendous this season thanks to age (4 of their top-5 guys are in their age 30 season or older), injury (Henry Melton is out for the year, Charles Tillman is dealing with an injury that is limiting him significantly, now Lance Briggs is out indefinitely), and departed coaches (Lovie Smith, Rod Marinelli) and it seems to get worse every week.
Their offense has been what has been carrying them this season, but that took a serious hit when Jay Cutler suffered a groin injury that is going to cause him to miss about a month. Not only are they not as good as their 4-3 record, but things are going to get worse going forward. Josh McCown played well in place of Cutler against Washington, completing 14 of 20 for 204 yards and a touchdown in an eventual 45-41 loss and it’s possible their offensive coaching staff could coach him up, with a solid supporting cast, but I definitely have my doubts in him.
In his career, he completes 58.2% of his passes for an average of 6.4 YPA, 38 touchdowns, and 44 interceptions on 1133 attempts. I have this line calculated at -9 on paper, but when you take into account Chicago’s injury situation and Green Bay’s home dominance, the 11 point line not only makes sense, but might even be too low. I have a good deal of confidence in the Packers this week.
Green Bay Packers 31 Chicago Bears 13
Pick against spread: Green Bay -11