NFL Expert Picks Against the Spread: Chicago Bears at Miami Dolphins
Isn't it interesting how the fortunes of teams with somewhat intertwined fates can change so much in just a couple of NFL seasons?
In 2015, it looked as if the Chicago Bears' fortunes might have been trending up. Yes, the team finished only 6-10 under first-year coach John Fox and last in the NFC North. But enigmatic QB Jay Cutler had his best statistical season under first-year offensive coordinator Adam Gase. Some in Chicago wanted Fox fired and Gase promoted, but the Miami Dolphins swooped in and hired Gase as their new head coach.
In 2016, Gase was the hot young coach in the league as he led Miami to a 10-6 record and its first playoff spot since 2008. Fins quarterback Ryan Tannehill had his best season under Gase's tutelage. However, Tannehill missed all of last year and Miami slipped to 6-10. That put Gase squarely on the hot seat entering 2018, and he's back on it after a surprising 3-0 start.
Chicago was terrible, especially offensively, under Fox and without Gase in 2016-17, and Fox was fired. Now, the Bears appear to have the hot young coach in the league in former Chiefs offensive coordinator Matt Nagy with his team one of the big talking points in the first month of the season at 3-1.
The Bears make their first trip to Miami since 2010 on Sunday.
Bears at Dolphins Betting Story Lines
Nagy would never say it publicly, but I promise you that he was not thrilled that Chicago's bye came so early in Week 5. After all, his offense exploded in a Week 4 48-10 win over Tampa Bay in which Mitchell Trubisky tied a franchise record with six touchdown passes - he had seven all of last year. It was quite something to see as Nagy's offense had guys running free all day; yes, the terrible Bucs defense had something to do with it, but it was exactly what Bears fans had been dreaming of for years.
Another problem with the bye coming so early is that the Bears were quite healthy, one of the healthiest in the league. Now they will be playing every week the rest of the season unless they earn a first-round bye (possible) or make the Super Bowl (nope). Really, the only issue surrounding the Bears now is that tailback Jordan Howard isn't thrilled with his role in the game plan. He's a between-the-tackles kind of guy, and Nagy has been leaning toward scatback Tarik Cohen because Cohen can break outside and is a much better receiver. Speed over power, basically.
The Dolphins clearly were a mirage with their 3-0 start, the wins coming over a meh Titans team in a weird, delayed game and over bad Jets and Raiders sides. Miami was blown off the field in Week 4 in New England and then blew a 17-point third-quarter lead last Sunday in a 27-17 loss in Cincinnati. One hates to blame Tannehill for every offensive problem, but he has had ratings of 47.9 and 57.4 the past two weeks, throwing for a combined 285 yards and three picks. He's just not the long-term answer there, and I fully expect Miami to either draft a quarterback high in 2019 or sign free agent and Miami native Teddy Bridgewater.
Over the last two games, Tannehill has led the Dolphins to 10 offensive points in his 21 drives, but it's not all his fault. His receivers and running backs are nothing special, and his offensive line is banged up and minus two starters. Kenyan Drake has disappointed so much that he's losing carries to 58-year-old Frank Gore. Kenny Stills, Albert Wilson and Jakeem Grant are Tannehill's top receivers. At best, two of them might be No. 3s. On the bright side, the Miami defense already has more interceptions (10) after five games than it did in all of 2017 (nine).
Bears at Dolphins Betting Odds and Trends
At 5Dimes , Chicago is a 3-point favorite (-120) with a total of 42. On the moneyline, the Bears are -165 and Dolphins +145. On the alternate lines, Chicago is -3.5 (+105) and -2.5 (-145). The Bears are 3-1 against the spread (1-1 on road) and 2-2 "over/under" (1-1 on road). The Dolphins are 3-2 ATS (2-0 at home) and 2-3 O/U (2-0 at home).
The Bears are 4-1 ATS in their past five following at least a 14-point win. They are 0-4 ATS in their past four after a bye. The Fins are 1-4 ATS in their past five vs. teams with a winning record and 1-6-1 ATS in their previous eight following a loss. The under is 8-2 in the Bears' past 10 overall. It's 4-0 in Miami's past four vs. teams with a winning record.
Bears at Dolphins Betting Prediction
I would fear this game as Bears fan because they haven't been expected to win a road matchup like this in a long time. Still a young team learning a new system, but Chicago's defense is already Super Bowl-caliber led by early Defensive Player of the Year favorite Khalil Mack. The trade for Mack completely altered the direction of this franchise.
Hard to see a struggling Miami offense with no gamebreakers doing much against that unit. Take Chicago at -2.5 and love the under (probably more than the side).
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