Monday Night Football Predictions: Philadelphia Eagles at Chicago Bears Odds & Picks
by Alan Matthews - 9/15/2016
If I'm being honest, this week's "Monday Night Football" matchup between the Eagles and Bears looks like one of the worst MNF games of the year because I fully expect both clubs to finish below .500. But I can all but guarantee you that it won't be as bad as last week's MNF nightcap in San Francisco, where the 49ers beat the Rams 28-0 -- a game in which Los Angeles set back offensive football about 40 years. Sadly, I recommended taking Rams -2.5 but I mentioned I absolutely loved the under -- a rare game where I prefer a total over a side -- and that clearly hit. So a good start to the MNF year from a betting perspective.
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This is Philadelphia's first trip to the Windy City since 2010, which the Bears won. The teams last played in Week 16 of the 2013 season, and it was one of the low points of the Marc Trestman Era in Chicago. The Bears could have clinched the NFC North with a victory but were embarrassed 54-11 even though the Eagles had nothing to play for that Sunday night. The Bears would then lose a winner-take-all NFC North title game at home the following week to Green Bay, and things went totally downhill from there for Trestman, who was fired after the 2014 season.
That 2013 Eagles team was Chip Kelly's first season in Philly, and the Eagles would win an NFC East winner-take-all game the following week over Dallas to reach the playoffs -- a wild-card home loss to New Orleans -- for the only time in Kelly's tenure. He's now coaching those 49ers.
Eagles at Bears Betting Story Lines
If you ask me, the two biggest "winners" of Week 1 were New England among AFC teams and Philadelphia in the NFC. Never thought I would group the Patriots and Eagles together this year, but there it is. In fact, through one week the NFL Executive of the Year is Eagles GM Howie Roseman, the Coach of the Year is Doug Pederson and the Offensive Rookie of the Year is Carson Wentz following Philly's 29-10 win over Cleveland.
Roseman, remember, somehow got the Vikings to give up first- and fourth-round picks near the end of the preseason when Minnesota panic traded for QB Sam Bradford after losing Teddy Bridgewater for the season. Before that deal, the Eagles planned to redshirt Wentz this season. Instead, they threw him in there Week 1 against the Browns, and Wentz was great, completing 22 of 37 for 278 yards, two touchdowns, no picks and a rating of 101.0 that's 11th in the NFL. It was one of the most unlikely performances by a rookie QB ever. Sure, the guy was the No. 2 overall pick, but three weeks ago he wasn't going to play in 2016, he barely played his final season at North Dakota State due to a wrist injury and was limited to one half of preseason football in the exhibition opener because he fractured a rib.
I'm obviously not ready to call Wentz the ROY favorite over Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott, but no rookie looked better in Week 1. I certainly understand that was against a bad Cleveland team and also it was at home. The crowd will be a factor this week when Wentz is under center, and perhaps that inexperience will show in making changes at the line.
Philly did suffer two key injuries in Week 1 with tight end Zach Ertz dealing with a rib problem and cornerback Leodis McKelvin a hamstring issue. Neither is likely to play Monday. Seventh-round rookie Jalen Mills likely would start for McKelvin, so expect the Bears to target him.
Chicago was the only NFC North team to lose Week 1. The Bears led the Texans 14-10 at halftime in Houston, but then the offense stopped functioning in a 23-14 loss. The Bears' offensive line was overwhelmed in the second half and Chicago finished with just 258 total yards. Alshon Jeffery had a solid game with four catches for 105 yards, but that was all in the first half. Kevin White, the Bears' No. 7 overall pick in 2015 who missed all of last year, had just three catches for 34 yards and was responsible for a Jay Cutler interception when White broke off a route too early. Cutler, incidentally, was sacked five times and pressured on 40 percent of his dropbacks (tied for highest in NFL). It's going to be a long year in Chicago.
The Bears seemed to come through the game without any major injuries in it, but they also had a league-high nine players listed as questionable and played seven of them -- also the highest in the NFL -- in Week 1. Welcome to the NFL's new injury report.
Eagles at Bears Betting Odds and Trends
At 5Dimes , Chicago is -3 (-125) with a total of 43. On the moneyline, the Bears are -175 and Eagles +155. On the alternate lines, Chicago is -3.5 (+100) and -2.5 (-150). On the road in 2016, Philadelphia was 4-4 against the spread and 4-4 "over/under." At home last year, the Bears were 2-6 ATS and 4-4 O/U.
The Eagles are 1-4 ATS in their past five vs. the NFC and 1-6 ATS in their past seven in Week 2. The Bears are 4-1 ATS in their past five on Monday but 0-5 ATS in their past five in September. The under is 8-1 in Philly's last nine after a win. The under is 4-1 in Chicago's past five vs. teams with a winning record.
Eagles at Bears Betting Predictions and Monday Night Football Picks
I do think Chicago is the better-coached team and, at least this week, has the better quarterback. Jeffery could have a big night, and the Chicago pass rush will give Wentz many more problems than Cleveland's did. The Bears won a single home game last year but will take this one. Give the 2.5 points, and I love the under again.
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