Houston Texans (0-1-1) at Chicago Bears (1-1)
There are a lot of similarities between these two teams. Both of these two teams entered the season expected to be among the worst teams in the league. Both of these teams surprisingly did not lose as big home underdogs week one, but both teams also lost the first down rate and yards per play battle in those games and required some unsustainable metrics to avoid week one defeats. Both teams then followed that up by struggling in week two losses on the road.
The Bears beat the 49ers week 1, but the 49ers had a lot of injury problems and still won the first down rate and yards per play battle by 0.41% and 1.30 respectively on the road, with the game largely swinging on turnovers and big plays, which are not as predictive week-to-week as first downs and yards. The Bears then lost in Green Bay by 17 in a game in which they lost the first down rate and yards per play battle by 10.85% and 0.71 respectively.
The Texans, meanwhile, played a Colts team that was also very banged up to a tie week one, but lost the yards per play and first down rate battle by 1.35 and 8.09% respectively, only managing a tie because of turnovers and special teams, which are not as predictive. The Texans then lost in Denver last week, in a game that was only decided by a touchdown, but also a game in which the Texans lost the yards per play and first down rate battle by 1.42 and 4.40% respectively, primarily keeping the game close because they won the turnover battle.
This line, favoring the Bears at home by a full field goal, suggests that the Bears are a slightly better team, but I have that the Texans are slightly better, both in my roster rankings (31st vs. 32nd) and in terms of overall efficiency (29th vs. 31st). The Texans are also healthier, with the Bears likely to be missing top cornerback Jaylon Johnson and/or top linebacker Roquan Smith due to injury. If both of those players are out and this line stays at three, I will likely place a bet on the Texans, but, for now, this is just a pick for pick ‘em purposes only.
Update: Jaylon Johnson is out, but Smith will play. Johnson’s absence is bigger in my opinion given their lack of depth at cornerback. This isn’t a big play, but I like getting the full field goal with the Texans and the money line at +140.
Houston Texans 17 Chicago Bears 16 Upset Pick +140
Pick against the spread: Houston +3