The Chicago Bears barely squeaked out a win in Week 8, while the Tennessee Titans were busy blowing a game on home turf. What can we expect when the two meet up this Sunday? Look for the Bears to win the game and cover the number.
This is a curious point spread. The Bears were -3.5 favorites in last week's look-ahead line. They re-opened this week at -4, but have been bet down to 3.25! The great thing about this number is it gives those of us who like the favorite to grab an affordable three, while those on the dog can take an affordable hook (odds from SBRforum). I do not recommend buying the half point if you're seeing -3.5 at regular juice. Either shop around, or hope that juice moves in your favor.
My numbers have the Bears as clear favorites here - which is noteworthy given the fact that they are on the road.
Hasselbeck, Britt, & CJ?
The Titans are gaining a lot more respect in the market lately thanks in large part to their improvements on offense. Johnson has had some success, Hasselbeck is a more reliable than Locker, and Britt has provided a legitimate threat opposite of Wright.
So why not ride the home dog here?
The simple reason is Chicago's defense. Fundamentally, they are great against the run and pass, and boast one of the better D-line's in the NFL. Schematically, you aren't about to get a bunch of big plays or easy points from them either. This is reflected in their drive success, third down, and red zone rankings.
If CJ doesn't turn back the clock and take this game over by himself, I see very little reason to put any faith into the Titans passing game. And Hasselbeck is going to need one of his receivers to step up big because whoever Tim Jennings covers will basically be blanketed out of the game. When QB's have been brave enough to throw his way, he's picked off six passes and returned half of them for TDs.
It also doesn't help matters that Cook has publicly asked for a trade this week. The improvements since Locker has gone out are being a bit overblown.
The Bears hold the best turnover differential in the league and that's with Cutler throwing at least one pick per game. That's a big testament to just how game-breaking their defense is.
The other prime reason I like the Bears in this spot is what happens in the big moments. Yes, they did look listless against the Panthers, but what happened when the game was on the line? Both the offense and defense came up with big plays and got the job done.
Conversely, what happened when the game got tight in the Titans/Colts game? The Colts managed to drive down the field and tie the game, then did the same thing again in OT. Statistically, the Titans gave up over 170 rushing yards - a theme we've seen play out all year long. The truth is the Titans defense is piss-poor and if this game is close, I know who I want my money on.
The Bears do have significant problems on the O-line, but they have the benefit of playing against one of the worst pass-rushing fronts in the NFL.
Finally, before and after these drives take place, the Bears have a couple other advantages in their favor - special teams and average starting field position.
I think the Bears should be favored by -4.5 in this one. The fact that we're able to get on the key number of three is a big bonus. The Bears should win this match-up the way they win most games - with great defense and stellar special teams.
NFL Pick: CHI -3.