Green Bay Packers +5.5 at Chicago Bears
As a die-hard Chicago Bears fan, I entered this season with very minimal hopes and realistic expectations. At the mid-point of this season, all isn’t awful for the Bears, but they sure do have a lot more work to do. Currently, the Bears offense is – predictable, to say the least. With rookie quarterback Mitchell Trubisky being handcuffed by play-calling and a lack of options to throw the ball to, the Bears are attacking via the rushing game. Running back Jordan Howard is third in the NFL in total carries (behind Zeke Elliot and LeVeon Bell) and is fifth in the NFL in rushing yards (662). He is the bell cow for this offense and with Mitchell Trubisky throwing for less than 50% of his completions, expect this trend to continue. The strength of this Bears team lies in their top ten defense. This is a great thing for fans of the Bears to see as they know the key to any success this franchise has ever had – stems from a strong defense. This week the Monsters of the Midway face their hated rival, the Green Bay Packers. Quarterback Brett Hundley has been more underwhelming than Trubisky and although his completion percentage is 1.2 points below sixty-percent – don’t be fooled. He’s averaging five yards a pass and has a touchdown/interception ratio of 1:4. Yikes. Defensively, the Packers are allowing 357 yards a game, which puts them in the bottom twenty-five percent of the NFL. Both teams will run very vanilla offenses, the Bears may try to open things up more than the Packers actually. Regardless, this is the first time since 2008 that the Bears are actually favored to win over the Packers. Five and a half points (with the trending arrow moving upwards) is just a weird number, but 38 as the over and under is a good one. This game will see a lot of three and outs and a lot of kicks. Bears may pull it off, modestly.
The Pick: The Under 38.5
Houston Texans +11 at Los Angeles Rams
One thing we all can agree on is this: The Houston Texans are pathetic without Deshaun Watson under center. The Texans options at quarterback are Tom Savage, who’s awful; Josh Johnson, who we vaguely remember as awful and TJ Yates, who is “eh.” It’s not even about the Texans losing their quarterback, the whole organization seems to have lost any inspiration, and that is not ALL on coach Bill O’ Brien. O’Brien is in the middle of a firestorm that involves his players not being happy with remarks made by the team’s owner. This is the total opposite of what’s going on in L.A. with the Rams. For years, the Rams have pretty much been a doormat in the NFL. First-year coach Sean McVay has transformed this team into the league’s number one scoring offense, averaging 32.9 points per contest. Houston’s defense may struggle with the Rams’ aerial attack and their run defense will get their best challenge of the season going up against running back Todd Gurley. Gurley has the fourth most rushing yards in the NFL with 686. The total balance on offense will be too much for Houston to keep up with for four quarters especially because the Texans offense will most likely throw up uneventful three-and-out drives and turn over the ball at least twice.
The Pick: Rams -11
New Orleans Saints -3 at Buffalo Bills
Buffalo at home is always a tough sell on the sharpest of betters. The weather is miserable and visiting teams are bored because there is nothing to do there. This year’s Bills team is in the middle of the debate of “contenders or pretenders” especially after getting smacked up by the Jets on national television last week. The Bills don’t run the ball exceptionally well but they also don’t throw the ball exceptionally well – but they force the issue with the run as their 250 attempts, with an average of 3.7 yards a carry, prove. NFL pundits have been drooling over the defense of the New Orleans Saints, saying that this defense is the reason why they have a record of 6-2. When you look at the numbers though, you ask yourself: Really? A defense that gives up 4.7 yards a rush and a completion percentage of 60% sounds pretty average… even to some below-average. For the Saints though, it’s all about one defensive stat: Points Per Game. This defense is only allowing teams to average 19 points per contest which goes really well when you have an offense that is constructed so perfectly. Head coach Sean Payton has leaned on a two-running-back attack where Alvin Kamara and Mark Ingram are relied on heavily throughout the game. The Saints have an offense that is top ten in rushing and passing and going against the Bills defense on the road will be one of their tougher tests this year. A final score of 27-18 is totally believable in the favor of the Saints.
The Pick: Saints -3
Good Luck and Wager Wisely