Chicago Bears (0-0 SU, 0-0 ATS) vs. Houston Texans (0-0 SU, 0-0 ATS)
NFL Week 1
Date/Time: Sunday September 11, 2016 at 1 PM EST
Where: NRG Stadium Houston, TX
by Jason Green, Expert Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: CHI +6.5 / HOU -6.5
Over/Under Total: 44
Does the preseason mean anything? Well, in terms of standings no, but the Texans were 4-0 in preseason games while the Bears were only 1-3. On top of that this is only the 4th ever match up between these teams and the Texans have won the first 3 games. Even though Houston made the playoffs last season they had terrible QB play, which is why they broke the bank to sign Denver’s Brock Osweiler in the off-season. Is he the final piece of the puzzle in the Lone Star State? Time will tell.
The Bears muddled through a 6-10 campaign last season even though QB Jay Cutler was pretty solid. However, longtime star RB Matt Forte is gone and after Alshon Jeffery the WR corps is pretty thin. The Bears are known for their D, but they have many new faces on that side of the ball and Jeremy Langford, Ka’Deem Carey, and Jordan Howard have big shoes to fill in taking over in the backfield for Forte.
The Bears are on the road in this game, which may be a good thing for them, as last season they were only 1-7 at home and 5-3 away from the Windy City. They were also one of the best road bets last season covering the spread in 6 of their last 7 road games.
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Osweiler steps into an offense that is now without RB Adrian Foster, but he has a pretty good WR corps led by DeAndre Hopkins, who had 111 catches last season for 1,521 yards and 11 TD. RB Lamar Miller was decent last season for Houston with 872 yards and 8 TD and he takes over for Foster as the lead back and will be facing a Chicago run defense that only ranked 21st in the league last season.
The Houston defense is obviously led by star J.J. Watt, but he is coming off an injury and he is not 100%. Still he is a beast up front and former 1st round pick Jadeveon Clowney is finally healthy and big things are expected of him this season. Overall the Texans were ranked 3rd last season defending the pass and 10th defending the run, so the Chicago offense has a tall task. One key is that the Bears’ O line has to keep Cutler off his butt, as if they can protect him he will make plays.
The Chicago defense was much better against the pass than against the run last season and with Osweiler under center look for the Texans to look to establish the run early behind Miller. If the Bears cannot stop the run they will be in trouble not only on D, but that will mean Cutler will have to save the team with his arm, which has not been the key to Chicago wins in the last few seasons.
Getting off to a good start to the season is key for the Bears playing in the tough NFC North, but starting on the road facing Watt and an imposing Houston defense is a tough task. Also, the Bears have failed to cover the spread one time in their last 4 games in September. Like the last few seasons it all rests with Cutler, but with a lack of legit weapons and a sketchy defense Chicago may be in for a long day.
While all eyes will be on new QB Osweiler and if Watt is healthy and dominating again this game will come down to the play of Houston RB Miller. Look for him to rack up the yards against a Chicago run D that will struggle and the Texans will win and cover the spread in a low-scoring defensive contest.
Jason's Pick to Cover the Point Spread: Texas -6.5
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