Chicago Bears (6-4) at St. Louis Rams (4-6)
Before the bye, the Rams beat the Colts in blowout fashion. However, there were a lot of fluky things going on. They scored twice on return touchdowns, twice on long touchdowns, and only had one methodical touchdown drive. This forced the Colts to abandon their game plan, which made the deficit even worse. Take away the fluke plays and that’s a completely different game. This is still a team moving the chains at a 71% rate, as opposed to 73% for their opponents. With the exception of fluky wins against Indianapolis and Houston (same sort of thing), their wins have come by a field goal over Arizona and a pair of touchdowns over a Jacksonville team that has lost 9 games by double digits. On the other hand, they have 3 losses of 15 or more and 2 losses of 20 or more.
Since 1989, 5 teams have won a game by 25 or more despite losing the first down battle by 9 or more. 2 of them are the 2013 Rams. That’s not sustainable. After their last such game, a 25 point win over Houston, they got destroyed by Carolina in a 30-15 loss. In fact, teams who win a game by 17 or more despite losing the first down battle by 9 or more are 5-18 ATS since 1989. Teams tend to be overconfident and overvalued in that situation and I think both are true here. The Rams don’t deserve to be favored over the Bears, even if it’s only by a point. At the end of the day, they have a decent defense and a backup quarterback.
The Rams are also in a terrible spot as teams are 34-69 ATS before being double digit dogs since 2010 and the Rams have a much bigger game in San Francisco next week that could easily be their Super Bowl since they aren’t really in the playoff mix. The Bears, meanwhile, are very much in the playoff mix and should be focused here for the Rams. I do think they’re a little overrated as well, mostly because their defense is atrocious (they made Baltimore’s offense look competent last week) and missing key players. Offensively, I don’t know how much I trust Josh McCown to keep this up.
Josh McCown is completing 60.4% of his passes for 7.47 YPA, 5 touchdowns, and no interceptions on this season, a QB rating of 100.0. This is coming from a guy who is 34 years old, has a career QB rating of 73.6, and hasn’t posted a QB rating higher than 70 since 2005. He didn’t suddenly become a starting caliber quarterback. I have no doubt that Marc Trestman is a fantastic offensive coach who is making him look better than he is, but I don’t have a ton of faith he can keep this up continually. If he can’t, that would expose their defense. However, I am somewhat confident they should be able to beat the Rams in a game that pretty much has an even line.
Chicago Bears 23 St. Louis Rams 16 Upset Pick +100
Pick against spread: Chicago +1