Houston Texans (4-8) at Chicago Bears (5-7)
The Bears haven’t been a particularly appealing team to pick this season. They started the season 5-1, but all five of their wins were by one score or less and they’ve since lost six straight games. A lot of their losses have been close on the scoreboard, but some of those results looked better than the Bears played, as they were down 16 points to the Colts, 21 points to the Titans, and 21 points to the Rams before some meaningless late scores, while their 6-point loss to the Vikings came in a game in which the Bears got at least 8 points of benefit from their special teams.
Including a 41-25 loss to the Packers, that’s five of seven losses that were not competitive, while all of their wins could have been losses. On top of that, the success that the Bears have had this season has been on defense, where they rank 7th in first down rate allowed over expected, while their offense ranks 30th in first down rate over expected, and offensive performance tends to be much more consistent week-to-week than defensive performance, which makes the Bears an even more unappealing pick going forward.
All that being said, I am going to pick the Bears this week as 1.5-point home underdogs against the Texans. The Texans are a capable team on paper, ranking 19th in my roster rankings, ahead of the 26th ranked Bears, but so much of that is dependent on star quarterback Deshaun Watson playing at an elite level and the Texans have not played up to their overall talent level, ranking 27th in schedule adjusted first down rate differential at -2.30%, with below average play on both sides of the ball, in large part due to poor coaching.
The Texans could be even worse than that going forward if they don’t stop underachieving, as they lost top wide receiver Will Fuller and top cornerback Bradley Roby for the season with PED suspensions two weeks ago. This also isn’t a good spot for the Texans, as they were effectively eliminated last week with a last second loss to the Colts, a division rival the Texans will get another shot at next week when they play them for the second time in three games. It could be hard for the Texans to be fully focused for a sub-.500 non-conference opponent, while the Bears are somehow still only a game out of the playoffs in the NFC. There isn’t enough here for the Bears’ money line to be worth betting, but I do think they will win and that they should be slightly favored, so the money line at +115 is worth a small play.
Chicago Bears 24 Houston Texans 23 Upset Pick +115
Pick against the spread: Chicago +1.5