Chicago Bears (0-2 SU, 0-2 ATS) vs. Dallas Cowboys (1-1 SU, 1-1 ATS)
NFL Week 3
Date/Time: Sunday, September 25, 2016 at 8:30 PM EST
Where: AT&T Stadium, Arlington, Texas
by Badger, Expert Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: CHI +7/DAL -7
Over/Under Total: 44.5
After two disappointing performances in the first two weeks of the regular season, the Chicago Bears will try and find some kind of semblance of organization when they travel to face the Dallas Cowboys in primetime on NBC’s Sunday Night Football in America in week three action.
The Bears embarrassed themselves in primetime last week with a, 29-14, loss at the hands of rookie Carson Wentz and the Philadelphia Eagles on Monday Night Football. To make matters worse, QB Jay Cutler hurt the thumb on his throwing hand and is listed as day-to-day on the injury report, so there is plenty of speculation that Cutler will miss a few weeks to heal while the Bears offensive staff tries to figure out if the team is ready to move on without him behind center.
Dallas and rookie quarterback Dak Prescott broke into the win column last week with a big, 27-24, victory over the NFC East rival Washington Redskins on Sunday. Prescott managed the game beautifully last Sunday and the Cowboys took the lead for good when former Redskins running back Alfred Morris scored on a 4-yard run with only four minutes remaining in the fourth quarter to add insult to injury for the Skins. Prescott will get his first crack at playing in primetime when the Cowboys host the reeling Bears on Sunday Night, as the rookie from Mississippi State tries to keep the Cowboys within striking distance in the division until the return of Tony Romo.
While the Bears were stumbling through their Monday night debacle, there were several sportsbooks with a betting line already on this game. Those books set an opening point spread of the Cowboys minus -3, but since the Bears terrible showing and the injury to Cutler, the line has shot up all the way to Cowboys minus -7 currently at most books. Many sportsbooks in Las Vegas currently have the game offline as they wait for word on whether Cutler will be in or out this week.
The over/under total opened at 44.5 and has yet to get enough action to warrant a betting line move in either direction.
Through two weeks the Bears offense is currently ranked 31st in the NFL in total yards per game (271 ypg) and 30th in scoring (14 ppg), so it’s not like they have been setting the world on fire even with Cutler at QB. Offensive line issues continue to hurt the Bears continuity in both the run game and in the passing game, an issue that even the Cowboys average defense should be able to take advantage of on Sunday night. If backup Brian Hoyer starts, the Bears offense could struggle even more as the threat in the passing game drops considerably with Hoyer at the helm.
When the Cowboys play on offense, I’d expect a heavy dose of Ezekiel Elliott running behind the offensive line not only because its less pressure on Prescott, but also because the Bears have had issues against the run through two games this year (allowing 114.5 ypg – 22nd in NFL). The Bears rebuilt secondary has done well in two games thus far, however those have been against a run-first team in Houston in the opener and against a rookie QB in Wentz on MNF.
Chicago has held its own against Dallas in head-to-head matchups since 2010, going 3-1 SU against them as well as 3-1 ATS in the time span. However, Dallas did bust the Bears in their chops last time out in 2014 by a score of, 41-28, in Soldier Field in Chicago. The Bears could also benefit from the fact that the road team in this series is a solid 4-1 ATS in the last five games.
Other betting trends to note include the fact that the over is a perfect 5-0 in the last five meetings, including both games played in Dallas at AT&T Stadium.
Badger's Pick to Cover the Point Spread: I thought the Bears would bounce back with a “saving their pride” type of effort on Monday Night last week … boy was I wrong. But you can call me crazy, but I think the Bears may have a better chance with Hoyer at QB. Hoyer looked comfortable in relief of Cutler on Monday, and with him taking most of the snaps during the week I think he’ll be ready to go against the Cowboys mediocre defense. Plus, I just think this may be the perfect spot (and excuse) to slowly work Cutler out of the lineup and off the team this winter … something that has been long overdue for years. I’m taking the Bears plus 7-points on Sunday.
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