Chicago Bears at Cincinnati Bengals: 2017 Week 14 NFL Pick

Chicago Bears (3-9) at Cincinnati Bengals (5-7)

The Bears were a capable opponent in the middle of the season, but they’ve had a lot of injuries in recent weeks. They got stud middle linebacker Danny Trevathan back from a 3-game absence last week, but have since lost nose tackle Eddie Goldman, right guard Kyle Long, and outside linebacker Pernell McPhee indefinitely from a team that had already lost outside linebacker Leonard Floyd, tight end Zach Miller, and safety Adrian Amos long-term, all of whom were contributing in the middle of the season.

Fortunately, they get to face a Bengals team that is equally banged up. The Bengals will be missing stud linebacker Vontaze Burfict, cornerbacks Dre Kirkpatrick and Adam Jones, safety Shawn Williams, outside linebacker Nick Vigil, and running back Joe Mixon. On top of that, stud defensive tackle Geno Atkins, middle linebacker Vincent Rey, and cornerback Darqueze Dennard all were significantly limited in practice this week and are listed as questionable. As banged up as the Bears are, the Bengals shouldn’t be favored by more than 4 points against anyone except the Browns, who incidentally are the only team the Bengals have beaten by more than 4 points all season.

The Bengals are also in a terrible spot. Not only are they coming off of a brutal late loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers on Monday Night, a loss that arguably ended their season, but the Bengals also have to turn around and go to Minnesota next week. Given that, they could easily look past the lowly Bengals, who still have enough talent to keep it close with a banged up Cincinnati team. Teams are just 29-55 ATS since 2008 as 6+ point favorites before being 6+ point road underdogs, which the Bengals will likely be in Minnesota next week (+7.5 on the early line). The Bears are worth a small bet at 6 or higher.

Cincinnati Bengals 20 Chicago Bears 16

Pick against the spread: Chicago +6.5

Confidence: Medium

San Francisco 49ers at Chicago Bears: 2017 Week 13 NFL Pick

San Francisco 49ers (1-10) at Chicago Bears (3-8)

Going into their week 9 bye, the Bears were coming off of a solid 3-3 stretch. They had pulled upsets over the Steelers, Panthers, and Ravens and played one score games against the Vikings and Saints, with their only big loss coming in Green Bay on a short week, back when Aaron Rodgers was still healthy. As a result, the Bears came out of the bye as 6 point home favorites against the Brett Hundley led Packers. However, the Bears lost that game straight up and then lost the following two weeks as well, with last week’s loss in Philadelphia coming by 28 points (31-3).

A big reason why the Bears haven’t played as well in recent weeks has been their defense, which was a huge part of their solid play earlier in the season. Without middle linebacker Danny Trevathan, their defense took a big step back, but he returns to the lineup this week after a 3-game absence. Even without him, they came within a missed field goal of going to overtime against the Lions and they could have gone to overtime against the Packers had they not fumbled on the goal line. Last week’s loss in Philadelphia was obviously not close, but the Eagles are the best team in the league right now, so there isn’t a ton of shame in that, especially without arguably your most important defensive player.

Not only do the Bears get Trevathan back this week, but they get probably their easiest matchup of the season with the 49ers coming to town. The 49ers will start recently acquired quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo for the first time this season and he should be an upgrade over CJ Beathard, but the 49ers have arguably the worst roster in the NFL around the quarterback and Garappolo is still an unknown commodity and likely doesn’t have the full playbook down after just a month with the team.

Despite that, the Bears are just 3 point favorites at home, suggesting these two teams are about even, which I definitely disagree with. When the Bears were 6 point favorites for the Packers a few weeks ago, I bet against them because that line was too high, but the 49ers are even worse than the Packers and the Bears now have Trevathan back, so I don’t understand this line at all. Aside from the Green Bay game, the Bears’ other home games have been wins over the Steelers and Panthers and close losses to the Falcons, Vikings, and Lions, so I don’t know why they wouldn’t beat the 49ers by at least a field goal. The 49ers are a huge step down in class from the aforementioned teams. I wish talented safety Adrian Amos was healthy for the Bears, but getting Trevathan back is more important. This is a high confidence pick at 3.

Chicago Bears 20 San Francisco 49ers 13

Pick against the spread: Chicago -3

Confidence: High

Chicago Bears at Philadelphia Eagles: 2017 Week 12 NFL Pick

Chicago Bears (3-7) at Philadelphia Eagles (9-1)

I picked the Eagles to get a first round bye before the season and I have picked them every week this season, including Picks of the Week against the Chiefs, Redskins, and Cowboys. That’s because I’ve consistently thought they were underrated. It’s worked for me this far, as they are 8-2 ATS on the season. However, I am actually going to go against them this week because I think the lines have finally caught up with how good they are. I’ve also consistently thought the Bears have been underrated this season, picking them in 6 of 10 games (4-1-1 ATS in those 6 games).

The Bears are banged up defensively, with middle linebacker Danny Trevathan and outside linebacker Pernell McPhee not practicing on Friday and defensive end Akiem Hicks being limited, but they still have a solid defense. They also have an underrated offense, with a good offensive line, a strong running game, an improving receiving corps with 2nd round rookie tight end Adam Shaheen emerging and wide receiver Dontrelle Inman coming over from the Chargers, and #2 overall pick Mitch Trubisky improving as a starting quarterback. I have this line calculated at -13, so we’re getting 1 point of line value with the Bears at +14. It’s not enough to bet on them with any sort of confidence, but for pick ‘em pool purposes, they are the smarter choice.

Philadelphia Eagles 30 Chicago Bears 17

Pick against the spread: Chicago +14

Confidence: None

Detroit Lions at Chicago Bears: 2017 Week 11 NFL Pick

Detroit Lions (5-4) at Chicago Bears (3-6)

The Lions beat the Browns 38-24 in Detroit last week, but the game was a lot closer than the final score suggested. The Browns led 24-17 in the 3rd quarter, despite allowing a return touchdown earlier in the game and getting no points out of a goal line opportunity at the end of the half. The Browns then had another goal line opportunity in the 4th quarter and threw an interception. The Lions won the first down rate battle, but only by 3.15%. On the season, they rank just 22nd in first down rate differential at -2.05%, similar to last season, when they were -1.90%.

Despite being 5-4 this season and 9-7 last season, they aren’t that good of a team. Last season, they won 8 of 9 games by a touchdown or less and didn’t beat a single playoff team. This season, their margin of victory has been better, but that’s largely because they have a +7 turnover margin, tied for 3rd in the league. Turnover margins tend to be very inconsistent on a year-to-year and week-to-week basis (the Lions were just -1 last season), so the Lions probably won’t be able to count on that going forward. Their strength of victory is also once again pretty unimpressive, as 4 of their 5 wins have come against the Cardinals, Giants, Packers, and Browns.

The Bears, meanwhile, have been underrated for most of the season (5-2-1 ATS through the first 8 games), until last week when they were strangely 6 point home favorites against the Packers. The Bears lost outright, though the loss came by 7 points and the game could have been a lot different had they not fumbled at the goal line in the 2nd quarter. Now the Bears are back to being a little underrated, as they are field goal home underdogs against the Lions this week.

The Bears are 3-0-1 ATS this season as home underdogs, with outright wins against the Steelers and Panthers, so they should be able to give the Lions a good game as well. Even if they end up losing, the field goal gives us enough cushion to be confident in the Bears, as close to 1 in 4 games are decided by 3 points or less. I have this line calculated at even, despite the Bears likely missing middle linebacker Danny Trevathan, so we’re getting good line value with Chicago +3.

The Bears are in a tough spot with the Eagles on deck, as teams are 48-78 ATS since 2012 before being double digit underdogs, which the Bears will likely be in Philadelphia. Tough upcoming games tend to present a distraction for teams, though the Bears are in a must win spot at 3-6 so I’d be surprised if they didn’t give a good effort. The Lions, on the other hand, have a much tougher and more important game against the Vikings on deck and it’s in 4 days on Thanksgiving. Favorites are just 61-95 ATS since 2008 before Thursday Night Football, as it’s understandably tough to be focused for an inferior opponent with another game right around the corner. I like the Bears a good amount this week as long as we get the full field goal.

Chicago Bears 24 Detroit Lions 23 Upset Pick +140

Pick against the spread: Chicago +3

Confidence: High

Green Bay Packers at Chicago Bears: 2017 Week 10 NFL Pick

Green Bay Packers (4-4) at Chicago Bears (3-5)

Since losing Aaron Rodgers with a broken collarbone in the first quarter against the Vikings, the Packers have lost 3 straight games against the Vikings, Saints, and Lions, by an average of 11.7 points per game. As a result, the public has soured on them in a big way. This line has shifted from 3 in favor of the hometown Bears on the early line last week to 6 this week. About 30% of games are decided by 3-6 points, so that’s a huge shift. I typically disagree with significant week-to-week line movements as they tend to be overreactions to a single week of play and this situation is no different.

The Bears have a solid running game and defense, but they rank 24th in first down rate differential and 23rd in my roster rankings, so they shouldn’t be favored by 6 over anyone except the worst few teams in the league, which I don’t think the Packers are. In fact, I have these two teams about even. The Packers have issues in the passing game without Rodgers, but they still have the advantage in that area over the Bears because they have much better pass catchers and better pass protection.

The Bears are better in the run game and on defense, but the Packers have an underrated front 7, with 2nd year players Kenny Clark and Blake Martinez having breakout seasons, and the Bears could be without top linebacker Danny Trevathan. I don’t love betting on Brett Hundley, but this line is too high to pass on. The Bears are too offensively challenged to be trusted as favorites of this many points. Outside of their win over Carolina in which they had two defensive touchdowns, the Bears haven’t won by more than 6 points since week 13 of last season against the 49ers, who are one of the worst teams in the NFL. The Packers are worth a small bet.

Chicago Bears 16 Green Bay Packers 13

Pick against the spread: Green Bay +6

Confidence: Medium

Chicago Bears at New Orleans Saints: 2017 Week 8 NFL Pick

Chicago Bears (3-4) at New Orleans Saints (4-2)

I’ve taken the Bears in 5 of 7 games this season, as I’ve thought all season they were an underrated team. In those 5 games, they went 4-1 ATS, including straight up victories as underdogs against the Steelers, Ravens, and Panthers. They have an above average defense, an above average running game, and an above average offensive line and can give good teams problems. However, I think the public is starting to catch on following Chicago’s wins over the Ravens and Panthers in the past 2 weeks, two games in which they didn’t allow a single offensive touchdown, so I don’t know if you can call them underrated anymore.

This week they go to New Orleans to face the Saints, another team that has been underrated for a while. As a result of that and Chicago’s two recent wins, we’re not getting much value with the Bears this week, as they are 9.5 point underdogs on the road against one of the better teams in the league. The Saints offense is still about as good as it’s ever been, but their defense has taken a major step forward this season, led by defensive end Cameron Jordan and cornerback Marshon Lattimore, who are both playing at an All-Pro level.

The Bears managed just 5 first downs last week in their 17-3 win over the Panthers, as the defense provided 14 points on two returns and a big play by running back Tarik Cohen set-up a field goal for another 3. That 5 first down performance dropped them to 28th in first down rate at 30.55%. They’ll need to do much better than that this week, as they’re unlikely to be able to rely on huge plays and return touchdowns for points. In order to do that, they’ll need rookie quarterback Mitch Trubisky to make some plays, after running a very conservative offense in his first 3 starts. I’m not sure if he’s capable of that, not necessarily because I don’t believe in his talent, but because he’s inexperienced and working with arguably the worst receiving corps in the NFL. For that reason, I’m taking the Saints here at 9.5, but I would take the Bears at 10. That’s how close this is for me.

New Orleans Saints 27 Chicago Bears 17

Pick against the spread: New Orleans -9.5

Confidence: None

Carolina Panthers at Chicago Bears: 2017 Week 7 NFL Pick

Carolina Panthers (4-2) at Chicago Bears (2-4)

This line was -4.5 in favor of the Panthers in Chicago last week on the early line, but, in the past week, the Bears won in Baltimore in a game in which they didn’t allow an offensive touchdown and the Panthers lost at home to the Eagles and lost All-Pro linebacker Luke Kuechly with a concussion. The Panthers are expected to get center Ryan Kalil back for the first time since week 1, but fill-in Tyler Larsen was playing pretty well, so he won’t be a huge upgrade and Kuechly is irreplaceable on this defense.

Despite that, this line only moved from 4.5 to 3.5. I thought we were getting good line value at 4.5 on the early line, but the value is even better at 3.5 given the Kuechly injury. Without Kuechly, I only have the Panthers about 2.5 points better than the Bears in my rankings, so we’re getting serious line value with the hometown Bears, especially considering 1 in 4 games are decided by a field goal or less. The Bears are just 2-4, but they came close to beating both the Falcons and the Vikings. They have an above average defense, they run the ball well, and rookie quarterback Mitch Trubisky gives their offense a higher ceiling, even if his receiving corps are a major problem. They should be able to keep this close at home against a banged up Carolina team they and have a decent chance to pull the upset straight up.

Chicago Bears 17 Carolina Panthers 16 Upset Pick +150

Pick against the spread: Chicago +3.5

Confidence: High