Monday Night Football Picks: Bears at Packers Week 9 Odds
by Alan Matthews - 10/31/2013
It's really a shame that injuries are going to cost football fans what should have been one of the best "Monday Night Football" matchups of the season. It's Week 9, so every team is dealing with injuries as it's a part of football, but perhaps no two teams are in worse shape in terms of lost star power than the Bears and Packers.
Chicago already lost its best defensive lineman, Henry Melton, earlier this year for the season. And in the team's last game against the Washington Redskins, a 45-41 loss, Jay Cutler hurt his groin and Lance Briggs his shoulder. As maddening as Cutler can be, the Bears are 2-10 in games he has missed or left early. Briggs' value can't be overstated as he's the quarterback of the defense and wears the headset in his helmet. The Pro Bowler has taken over Brian Urlacher's role on that side of the ball. Both Cutler and Briggs were ruled out 4-6 weeks when hurt. In addition, Chicago may not have top cornerback Charles Tillman in this game. He didn't play in Week 6, left Week 7 early and hasn't practiced much this week due to a knee problem. So conceivably Chicago's most important player at each level of the defense is out. The Bears have lost three of four.
The difference between these franchises in recent years is that the Bears go in the tank when key injuries hit -- especially Cutler -- but the Packers win regardless of their M*A*S*H unit largely because of Aaron Rodgers. For sure out for this game for Green Bay is its most electric offensive player, receiver and return man Randall Cobb (he won't be back until mid-December at the earliest), top tight end Jermichael Finley (scary spinal injury and likely done for the season) and star linebacker Clay Matthews (could be back next week). In addition, receiver James Jones hasn't played the past two games with a knee injury and is very iffy for Monday. No matter, the Packers have won four straight to take over first in the NFC North.
Bears at Packers Betting Story Lines
Josh McCown will make his first start since 2011 in place of Cutler. He looked pretty good in relief of Cutler on Oct. 20, completing 14-of-20 for 204 yards and a touchdown. But that Washington defense is pretty bad. McCown's career rating is 72.0 with six more picks than touchdowns. There is some thought that McCown could flourish in the new Bears offense under coach Marc Trestman. It has looked like a vastly different unit than under Lovie Smith. Trestman stresses quick throws to avoid getting his QB sacked, and it's largely worked. Cutler was on pace for the best season of his career and was completing 64.9 percent of his passes; he was around a 58 percent passer the previous two years.
You could definitely make an argument Chicago has the better skill position talent -- running back Matt Forte, receivers Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery (who has at least 107 yards in three of the past four games) and tight end Martellus Bennett -- than Green Bay will on Monday. Except at the most important position, of course.
Rodgers is having a typically excellent season and has been brilliant in the winning streak, throwing seven touchdown passes and just one pick. He's completing 67.7 percent of his passes for a rating of 110.8 this month. Rodgers has made guys like Jarrett Boykin and Myles White good players with Cobb and Jones out.
What should scare the rest of the NFL this season is that the Packers have a dangerous running game for the first time in years. Eddie Lacy is looking like a second-round steal from the 2013 draft and is probably the Offensive Rookie of the Year favorite. In the past four games, Lacy has been a throwback-type workhorse, carrying 97 times for 395 yards, both the most of any back in the NFL. The Packers are averaging 141.4 yards rushing per game (fourth in the NFL) and 4.8 yards per carry (tied for third).
Green Bay leads the NFC in averaging 438.9 yards per game and the Bears are No. 27 in yards allowed and dead last in sacks (anyone seen Julius Peppers?) The 45 points allowed to Washington was the most the Bears have allowed since 2003. So if Chicago doesn't get turnovers -- the Bears have forced 18 takeaways -- it just isn't going to beat good teams, especially without Cutler and Briggs.
Bears at Packers NFL Week 9 Monday Night Football Betting Odds and Trends
At Bovada, Green Bay is an 11-point favorite with a total of 50. The Bears are 1-5-1 ATS (1-2 on road) and 6-1 “over/under” (3-0 on road). The Packers are 5-2 ATS (3-0 at home) and 4-3 O/U (1-2 at home). Chicago is 0-5 ATS in its past five vs. the NFC North. It is 2-12 ATS in its past 14 against the NFC. Green Bay has covered 15 of its past 20 against teams with a winning record. The over is 7-1 in Chicago's past eight Week 9 games. The under is 7-2 in the Packers' past nine in the NFC North. The Bears are 1-4 ATS in the past five in Green Bay. The under is 10-1 in the past 11 meetings.
Monday Night Football Picks: Bears at Packers Betting Predictions
Rodgers is 9-2 in his career against the Bears, and the Packers have won six straight and eight of nine in the NFL's oldest rivalry (this is game No. 187, which includes two playoff matchups). The Pack won by 13 at home against the Bears in Week 2 last season and by eight in Week 15 in the Windy City to clinch the NFC North. The Pack also have won 10 straight home games inside the division.
Ironically, the most points Chicago has scored against Green Bay since 2008 was when McCown started in Week 16 of 2011, and the Bears lost, 35-21. That's why it's such a shame to see Cutler out, because Trestman was hired partly because defensive-minded Lovie Smith couldn't solve the Packers. McCown will be as prepared as he can be with that bye week, so I think 11 points is one too many. Take Chicago and the under. Pack win something like 27-17.
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