NFL Expert Picks Against the Spread: Chicago Bears at New Orleans Saints
I somewhat map out before the season which Sunday game I will most likely preview each week here at Doc's. Of course, there are changes to the schedule because the NFL is a league of parity and there are surprise teams every year, both in a good and bad way. That said, if you had told me I would be previewing Bears at Saints in Week 8 because the game had potential playoff relevance for both, well, I would have never believed it. But here we are.
Chicago (3-4) finished last in the NFC North the previous three seasons and was expected to again. Frankly, I wasn't sure the Bears would surpass last year's three-win total after losing their two top receivers, Cam Meredith and Kevin White, to season-ending injuries before Week 2. The Bears are now two games out of Minnesota's lead in the division. I still doubt Coach John Fox's team can win the division, and it is a +1200 long shot at BetOnline , but Aaron Rodgers' injury did change the dynamic there. Most Bears fans I know are torn this season as many prefer another lousy record and high draft pick - so that GM Ryan Pace (who was hired from the Saints a few years ago) fires Fox after this season.
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The Saints (4-2) had finished 7-9 in three straight and four of the past five seasons, and that was about where they were projected in 2017. But Coach Sean Payton's team - some rumors had him as the Bears' next head coach because Pace knows him well - is alone in first in the NFC South. That division looks eminently winnable with the Bucs and Falcons both underachieving and the Panthers rather inconsistent. New Orleans is the only team in the South with a positive point differential (+38) and is the +145 favorite. The Saints might have staying power as their strength of schedule through seven weeks has been the toughest in the NFL. Now it gets much easier.
Bears at Saints Betting Story Lines
Actually, I think the Chicago coach right now is actually the ghost of George Halas or Tom Osbourne - a guy from an era where you essentially ignored the forward pass and won on the ground and with defense/special teams. In Week 6, the Bears had no right winning 27-24 in overtime in Baltimore. Not when rookie quarterback Mitch Trubisky had just eight completions for 113 yards. However, Chicago gashed the Ravens for 231 yards on a whopping 54 carries and got a 90-yard defensive touchdown.
The Bears had even less of a right winning this past Sunday, 17-3 at home over Carolina - doing the Saints a favor. Trubisky attempted seven passes - seven!! - and completed four for 107 yards. And 70 of those came on a short dump-off to rookie running back Tarik Cohen, who did all the work. Throw that out, and the Bears had 83 total yards. Both touchdowns came from rookie safety Eddie Jackson, who returned a fumble 75 yards for a touchdown in the first quarter and a Cam Newton pick 76 yards for a score in the second. No player in the NFL had two defensive touchdowns since 2012 and no Bear since 1948! Jackson was first player in NFL history with multiple defensive touchdowns of at least 75 yards in a game. It had to feel extra special for Jackson because it came exactly one year to the day that he blew out his knee playing at Alabama, which caused him to slip to the fourth round of the draft.
The Saints look nothing like the team that was beaten soundly Week 1 at Minnesota or Week 2 vs. New England as they have won four straight all by at least nine points. Drew Brees has been his usual excellent self and last week in a 26-17 win at the Rodgers-less Packers he threw for 331 yards and a touchdown. He reached 500 career TD passes, including playoffs, becoming just the fourth player ever to do that. I'm guessing you can name the other three (one's still playing).
This isn't just Brees' team any longer, though. The Saints are running the ball well behind their two-headed monster of Mark Ingram and rookie Alvin Kamara, and they are actually playing some defense! New Orleans ranks 15 th in total defense (not bad after giving up around 1,000 yards combined the first two weeks) and 16th in scoring (22.2). Rookie cornerback Marshon Lattimore has been terrific. These aren't the 1985 Bears, but those numbers are huge improvements over recent years.
New Orleans has won the past three in this series, but they haven't played since a Monday in Week 15 of the 2014 season, a 31-15 Saints home win. Brees threw for 375 yards and three scores. Jay Cutler was his usual terrible self that night with three picks.
Bears at Saints Betting Odds and Trends
At 5Dimes , New Orleans is a 10-point favorite (+105) with a total of 47.5. On the moneyline, the Saints are -410 and Bears +330. On the alternate lines, New Orleans is -9.5 (-105), -9 (-110) and -8.5 (-115). The Bears are 5-2 against the spread (1-2 on road) and 2-5 "over/under" (2-1 on road). The Saints are 4-2 ATS (1-1 at home) and 4-2 O/U (2-0 at home).
The Bears are 2-6 ATS in their past eight after a win. The Saints are 7-1 ATS in their past eight vs. teams with a losing record. They are 4-0 ATS in their previous four after rushing for 150 yards or more in the previous game. The under is 4-1 in the Bears' past six in October. The under is 4-1 in the Saints' past five in the month. Chicago has failed to cover its past four in New Orleans.
Bears at Saints Betting Prediction
If you happen to watch this game or attend it in person, don't be surprised if it's nearly 40 percent Bears fans. First off, they are one of the NFL's most popular teams. Second, their fans travel really well and I happen to know plenty of Midwesterners would love a Halloween weekend (all big parties will be this weekend) in the Big Easy.
I simply don't see how the Bears can keep winning with smoke and mirrors. This will also be Trubisky's first dome game, which could be relevant with the noise, etc. (even if it's 40 percent Bears fans). Give the 8.5 points and go under the total.
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Read more articles by Alan Matthews
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