Monday Night Football Picks: New Orleans Saints at Chicago Bears Odds
by Alan Matthews - 12/12/2014
Earlier this week, Bears receiver Brandon Marshall said he thought that this Saints-Bears matchup between 5-8 disappointing teams should be taken off "Monday Night Football". I tend to agree even though New Orleans could be in sole possession of first place in the NFC South by Sunday evening. Alas, the NFL doesn't do flex scheduling for the Monday game, only the Sunday night ones. Marshall doesn't have to watch. He's out for the season after suffering rib and lung injuries last week against Dallas, ending his streak of consecutive 1,000-yard seasons at seven.
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This game means squat to Chicago, and in fact the Bears would be better off trying to lose out and improve draft position -- and get a last-place schedule potentially -- than try to finish .500. As noted, it means everything to the Saints, who might need only six wins to take the dreadful South.
New Orleans is tied with Atlanta atop the South, with Carolina (4-8-1) still in the mix. The Falcons could easily lose Sunday at home to Pittsburgh, especially if star receiver Julio Jones misses it with an injury. The Falcons currently hold the head-to-head tiebreaker over New Orleans, and the two play in the Superdome next Sunday. The Saints finish at Tampa Bay, while Atlanta hosts Carolina. Speaking of the Panthers, it's not out of the question they lose Sunday at home against the lousy Bucs with Cam Newton out for the game. Frankly, I'd be surprised if Newton plays for a few weeks after his scary car accident Tuesday. The Panthers are home to Cleveland next Sunday before closing in Atlanta.
New Orleans is the -110 division favorite at Bovada with Atlanta at +175 and Carolina at +400. There's also a Week 15 special prop on the site asking whether either Carolina or Cincinnati will win its division with a tie on its record. "Yes" is +150 and "no" -200. I like yes there -- for the Bengals.
Saints at Bears Betting Story Lines
Earlier this week in a coaching props story I wrote that Bears coach Marc Trestman would get another season and not be fired . I still think that but not quite as strongly. Already it has been reported that defensive coordinator Mel Tucker is going to be canned. Now Trestman has to fire offensive coordinator Aaron Kromer. The offense stinks, but that's mostly on Trestman, who is the real play-caller. However, it was revealed Friday that the anonymous Bears source who ripped QB Jay Cutler in the media recently and said the franchise was having buyer's remorse over his big extension was Kromer. He tearfully admitted as such to the team, although he denied the "buyer's remorse" part. Whatever. You can't keep him now. So why bother even keeping Trestman if both coordinators are going to be gone? Trestman can't even control his own coaches from leaking stories to the media.
Chicago actually tied a season high with 28 points last Thursday -- its first game over 21 since Week 6 -- but the NFL's worst scoring defense allowed 41 in a home loss to Dallas. Tony Romo did pretty much what he wanted, missing on just five of his 26 passes, throwing three touchdowns and getting sacked once. DeMarco Murray had a season-high 179 yards rushing. Dallas punted only twice. Cutler played OK, going 32 of 46 for 341 yards and two touchdowns, but he threw yet another interception. That's 15 on the year along with six lost fumbles to lead the NFL in total turnovers. Once again, Trestman and Co. abandoned the run game as Matt Forte carried only 13 times for 26 yards.
As mentioned above, Chicago lost Marshall for the season. He finishes with 61 catches for 721 yards and eight touchdowns. Starting inside linebacker D.J. Williams also was lost for the year. He's the fourth starter on that side of the ball to be lost. Chicago will move rookie Christian Jones into the starting lineup, and the Bears will use their seventh combination of starters at linebacker.
Remember when the Saints were a lock to win at home? They lost their fourth straight at the Superdome last week, and it was ugly: 41-10 to a Carolina team that had been struggling mightily. Drew Brees was 29-for-49 for 235 yards with a TD and a pick. He was terrible through three quarters (rating of 35.4) and only put up some garbage-time numbers in the fourth quarter when the Panthers played prevent. New Orleans only had 310 yards -- Brees used to have that by the third quarter in home games -- and turned it over twice while holding the ball for a scant 24:00. The Saints fell behind 17-0 with two turnovers on their first three offensive snaps.
The main injury question for New Orleans is outside linebacker Junior Gallette with a knee injury. He's questionable after leaving the Panthers game in the third quarter. He has been the Saints' top pass-rusher this season with a team-high seven sacks. He also is tied for the NFL lead with 43 QB hurries.
The Saints are going to have some changes as well. Defensive coordinator Rob Ryan probably is gone. That unit overachieved last season but is 31st in total defense this year. You even hear reports that perhaps Sean Payton might leave, although he denied that this week. Any team would jump to hire him.
New Orleans Saints at Chicago Bears NFL Monday Night Football Betting Odds and Trends
At 5Dimes , New Orleans is a 3-point favorite (-110) with alternate lines of 4 (+123), 3.5 (+115), 2.5 (-135), 2 (-140) and 1.5 (-145). The Saints are -160 on the moneyline and the Bears +140. The total is 53.5. New Orleans is 5-8 against the spread (3-3 on road) and 10-3 "over/under" (5-1 on road). Chicago is 5-8 ATS (2-4 at home) and 8-5 O/U (2-4 at home).
The Saints are 5-2 ATS in their past seven Monday games. They are 2-5 ATS in their past seven vs. teams with a losing record. Chicago is 8-3 ATS in its past 11 Monday games. The Bears are 1-7 ATS in their past eight following a double-digit loss at home. The over is 7-1 in the Saints' past eight after a loss of more than 14 points. The over is 9-4 in New Orleans' past 13 on Monday. The over is 5-0 in Chicago's past five in December. It's 5-2 in the Bears' past seven on Monday. The home team has covered five of the past seven meetings.
New Orleans Saints at Chicago Bears NFL Monday Night Football Picks and Betting Predictions
These teams played last season in Soldier Field, and the Saints won 26-18. Brees threw for 288 and two scores. Cutler threw for 358 and two scores, with Alshon Jeffery catching 10 passes for 218 yards and a TD. With Marshall out, the Saints are going to blanket Jeffery.
I read nothing from that game because both offenses were so much better. I still don't trust the Saints much outside that dome, but they have been better on the road of late. The Bears are a dysfunctional group right now. Give the 2.5 points and go over.
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