Cincinnati Bengals (0-0 SU, 0-0 ATS) vs. Chicago Bears (0-0 SU, 0-0 ATS)
NFL Week 1
Date and Time: Sunday, September 8th, 2014, 1:00 pm EST
Where: Soldier Field, Chicago, Ill..
TV: CBS/DirecTV 705
by Badger, Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: Cin +3/CHI -3
Over/Under Total: 41.5
After consecutive years of reaching the AFC playoffs the bar of expectations is set pretty high in 2013 for the Cincinnati Bengals, so they’ll be looking to get off to a fast start when they travel to Soldier Field to take on the Chicago Bears in an NFL regular season opener Sunday on CBS.
With essentially the entire cast of players the Bengals have relied upon the past two seasons back on the sideline, including a top-ranked defensive unit, folks in Cincinnati are expecting the next step this season. Quietly the Bengals have gone about the preseason getting ready, but with an exciting young core of skilled players coming into the prime of their careers, it’s going to get harder and harder to keep quiet for much longer.
Chicago won 10 games last year but it still wasn’t enough to get the Bears over the hump, so Lovie Smith was let go and in comes coaching veteran Marc Trestman. Trestman was hand picked to try and “mentor” QB Jay Cutler, which is a great idea for Bears fans because when Cutler is good the Bears are hard to beat. But when Cutler is bad, the Bears have no chance. Which Cutler shows up under the guidance of Trestman will be worth the admission Sunday, and a great indicator of where the Bears will go in 2013.
If you’re hoping for some exotic betting line movement to give you direction on this game, good luck, because the point spread opened at the standard home-team Bears listed as 3-point favorites and has yet to move at all. A few of the offshore sportsbooks that opened the game back in the summer with the Bears at -4 have come down the hook to -3.5, but for the most part all you’re going to get is the standard 3-points no matter where you wager.
The over/under total opened as high as 45 over the summer, but its dropped like a rock all the way down to 42 or 41.5 at most books.
Offensively there won’t be much from the Bengals that we haven’t seen already. QB Andy Dalton manages the game, uses his tight ends, takes a shot downfield time to time with A.J. Green and lets RB BenJarvus Green-Ellis move the chains. The o-line is solid and healthy … there’s really not much not to like. The Bears defense was one of the top units in the NFL last year, one of the highest scoring defenses too, so this one could be a grudge match come Sunday.
Where the game will likely turn for the Bears is on offense, or more specifically, when the Bears offense is forced to go against a stiff, tough Bengals defense. Cutler was way too dependent on throwing to Brandon Marshall last year, and with Marshall still rehabbing from offseason surgery Cutler’s go-to guy may start the year a little gimpy. Chicago also re-worked four/-fifths of the offensive line, so if that isn’t fixed the Bengals defense will be helping Cutler up off the Soldier Field turf again and again on Sunday.
Most of the strong betting trends favor the Bengals in this matchup. Cincinnati is a solid 11-5 ATS on the road over the past few seasons, and their 5-0 ATS record as a road underdog of 3 points or less could explain why most of the early money is on the Bengals.
Badger's Pick to Cover the Point Spread: This one is going to be a defensive battle, with two of the NFL’s best going at it in what I’m looking at a 21-17 or 20-14 type of game. I'm betting the UNDER here.
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