Chicago Bears (1-2) at Green Bay Packers (2-1)
Typically, I love going against significant week-to-week line movements because they tend to be an overreaction to a single week of play. This case is no different. The Packers were favored by 11.5 on the early line last week, but now are favored by just 4.5, a massive line movement. It’s not hard to understand why, as the Packers needed overtime to beat the winless Bengals, who entered as 7.5 point underdogs, while the Bears pulled out the overtime home victory over the previously undefeated Steelers, who entered the game as 7.5 point favorites. However, the line movement is still a major overreaction.
The Bears’ win was impressive, but it came against a Pittsburgh team that always plays down to the level of their competition in non-divisional road games. The Steelers are just 2-10 ATS as non-divisional road favorites of 7 or more in the Ben Roethlisberger era and they lost 6 of those 12 games straight up. Winning in Lambeau, where the Packers are 28-15 ATS as favorites of 7 or more in the Aaron Rodgers era, is going to be a different test.
The Bengals nearly pulled it off last week, but that was because the Packers had so many injuries. They were without starting wide receiver Randall Cobb, stud left tackle David Bakhtiari, and arguably their two best defensive players, defensive end Mike Daniels and outside linebacker Nick Perry. They won’t get everyone back, as Bakhtiari is expected to be out again and right tackle Bryan Bulaga will join him on the sideline, but Cobb will play and Perry and Daniels sound like they have a good chance to be out there as well, which would be a huge help for this defense. Even with the Packers not at 100%, I have this line calculated at around 10, so we’re getting significant line value with the home team as a result of the undeserved line movement.
Making matters worse for the Bears, they have to make this trip to Lambeau on a short week. Home favorites are 73-51 ATS on Thursday Night, including 38-24 ATS as home favorites of 6+ points. The better team understandably tends to cover on Thursday Night if they’re at home and Aaron Rodgers is 4-1 ATS unsurprisingly at Lambeau on Thursday Night. On top of that, road teams are just 2-16 ATS on Thursday Night after an overtime game. The Packers are coming off of an overtime game too, but they’re the home team and teams are a slightly better 2-6 ATS at home on Thursday after an overtime game.
I don’t think the Bears are a terrible team, but expecting them to travel to Lambeau and keep it close on a short week after an overtime game is too much. It’ll help their preparation on a short week that they’re facing a familiar opponent, but this is still a daunting task. It’s worth at least a small bet on the Packers as touchdown favorites. If Daniels and Perry are both definitely playing and this line stays around where it currently is, I might bump this up to a high confidence pick before gametime. This is also my Survivor Pick (BUF, OAK, NE, GB).
Also, by request, I’m going to be posting lines I lock in early in the week during my Thursday Night writeups this season, so readers can lock them in before they move. These are not all my picks for the week, just picks where I think the line may move in an unfavorable direction (usually underdogs). The rest of the writeups will continue to be posted over the weekend as normal.
NYG +3 @ TB
OAK +3 @ DEN
Thursday Update: Perry and Cobb are active for the Packers, but Mike Daniels is not, so I am leaving this as a medium conference pick. Daniels being out is also enough for me to switch my survivor pick, as there are two other good options later in the week (Atlanta vs. Buffalo and Seattle vs. Indianapolis).
Green Bay Packers 27 Chicago Bears 17
Pick against the spread: Green Bay -7