Washington Redskins (7-6-1) at Chicago Bears (3-11)
The Bears narrowly lost at home last week to the Packers, but they were impressive even in defeat. They won the first down battle 29-20 and the first down rate battle by 11.14% and only lost on a last second field goal because they lost the turnover battle by 4. Fortunately, turnover margins tend to be very inconsistent on a week-to-week basis. In fact, teams that lose the turnover battle by 4, on average, have a turnover margin of +0.1 the following week. As a result, those teams cover the spread at a 53.1% rate, including 57.7% as home underdogs, as the Bears are here.
The Bears have been impressive in defeat most of the year actually, as they enter this game 14th in first down rate differential, despite a 3-11 record. Six of their last eight losses have come by 6 points or fewer. At home, the Bears are 3-4 with a +8 point differential and just one loss by more than 6 points (back in week 2). They’ve had a lot of injuries, but are still playing pretty well. Last week, their offense got a boost when top receiver Alshon Jeffery returned from his 4-game suspension. This week, their defense gets a boost with top linebacker Jerrell Freeman returning from a 4-game suspension.
The Redskins, meanwhile, have just 2 wins by more than a touchdown all year and one was at home against the Browns in a game in which they lost the first down battle 26 to 24. They enter this game 19th in first down rate differential, actually a few spots below the Bears, despite having a better record, and are coming off of a home loss to the underdog Carolina Panthers. They’re also without tight end Jordan Reed, their best offensive play maker. We’re getting great value with the Bears as 3.5 point home underdogs, especially since 1 in 4 games are decided by a field goal or less. On top of that, the Bears’ close home loss to the Packers last week puts them in a good spot this week, as teams are 75-56 ATS since 2002 as home underdogs after a loss as home underdogs. I like the Bears a lot this week, not just to cover the 3.5 point spread, but also to win straight up.
Chicago Bears 24 Washington Redskins 23 Upset Pick +145
Pick against the spread: Chicago +3.5