Green Bay Packers (1-2 SU, 0-2-1 ATS) vs. Chicago Bears (2-1 SU, 2-1 ATS)
NFL Week 4
Date and Time: September 28 Ė 1pm ET
Where: Soldier Field
by Evergreen, Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: GB Pick'em/CHI Pick'em
Over/Under Total: 49
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Some of the best games on the NFL schedule each year come when two hated rivals clash and Week 4 brings the latest installment of the most played rivalry in NFL history when the Green Bay Packers square off against the Chicago Bears. The Packers/Bears series dates back to 1921 and Sundayís tilt will be the 189th meeting between the teams with Chicago getting the better part of history overall with a 93-89-6 record. This game has a lot of importance for an early season matchup, especially for Green Bay as they are already 0-1 in the NFC North.
The point spread information for this game is a bit muddy, as it sometimes is for a game that has a team coming off Monday Night Football, and this one is most often advertised as a pick Ďem at many online betting sites. There are lines out there that have the Bears as 1.5 point underdogs and there line should have plenty of movement considering these teams are bet pretty heavily week to week. The over/under total for the game is set at 49 with the under has coming through in 11 of the last 13 between these teams.
Green Bay is licking some pretty heavy wounds after a 19-7 loss in Detroit. The Lions didnít play particularly well but the Packers could not consistently move the ball on offense and never mounted a challenge in a game when they had plenty of chances to do so. The once dynamic Green Bay offense has sputtered and they seem to be a playmaker or two short from being able to let Aaron Rodgers really put opposing defenses to the test. The defense has been better than most expected but have been hurt by the rush, allowing the third most yards on the ground through three weeks. Linebackers Clay Matthews and Brad Jones are questionable for the game and that will not help a defense that is still looking to make more splash plays, having only accounted for five sacks to this point.
Chicago has rebounded nicely from a disappointing loss in the opener, downing the 49ers in Week 2 and clipping the Jetsí wings on Monday Night by a 27-19 score. The O-line has seen some injuries and that has the Bears dead last in rushing yards but the Green Bay defense is likely the softest they have faced after going against the Bills, Niners and Jets. Jay Cutler has played well in the absence of a solid ground game, throwing for eight touchdowns against just two interceptions and he hasnít had many of the ill-advised throws that have often plagued him in previous seasons. It hasnít happened often in the last few years but it looks like Cutler is playing better than Rodgers at this point.
These teams split the season series last year with each winning in the otherís house. Chicago got the better in the first match but Cutler did not play in that one and Rodgers suffered a collarbone fracture after just two pass attempts. Both QBís were in there for the Week 17 game that ultimately sent Green Bay to the playoffs after Rodgers found Randall Cobb for a touchdown on a late fourth down play. Green Bay has won eight of the last ten matchups but they have mostly been the better team on paper in those games and Iím not sure that is the case this week.
I donít trust either defense this weekend as there are just too few playmakers on that side of the ball to balance out the opposing offenses. I expect some alleviation from the struggles that both Eddie Lacy and Matt Forte have seen and there is plenty of talent in the wide receivers on both teams to allow the respective quarterbacks to see success. The Green Bay/Detroit game was a good example of how sloppy a division contest can turn but I think plenty of points are scored in this one. Watch Brandon Marshallís ankle injury status through the week. He returned to the Jet game after exiting briefly but seemed limited and could be a question mark on a short week.
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I donít think it matters if the line shifts off the pick Ďem either way but it would be interesting to see how bettors feel about the Packers after their struggles appear to be more than just a slow start. Expect Cutler, Forte, Marshall and Alshon Jeffery to get their production and watch for the x-factor in Martellus Bennett as Green Bay doesnít have quality coverage personnel in the middle of the field. Rodgers, Lacy, Jordy Nelson and Cobb will be counterpunching but there is a lack of difference makers beyond that for Green Bay and it gets tough for the Pack when teams take away Nelson especially. It seems odd to predict Green Bay to get off to a 1-3 start but I think that is exactly what happens. It will be close but I think Cutler avoids the key mistake and Chicago grinds out an old school NFC North style win. Chicago 26 Green Bay 24
Evergreen's Pick to Cover the Point Spread: Chicago Bears.
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