Philadelphia Eagles (1-0 SU, 1-0 ATS) vs. Chicago Bears (0-1 SU, 0-1 ATS)
NFL Week 2
Date/Time: Monday, September 19, 2016, 8:30 pm EST
Where: Soldier Field, Chicago, Ill.
TV: ESPN, DirecTV 206
by Badger, Expert Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: PHI +3/CHI -3
Over/Under Total: 42.5
The Doug Pederson era in Philadelphia opened with a bang last week, but this weekís test will be on the road when the Eagles travel to Soldier Field in Chicago to take on the Bears in week two NFL action on ESPNís Monday Night Football.
The Eagles took a little heat for trading away veteran QB Sam Bradford the week before the regular season, but second-overall pick Carson Wentz made them look like geniuses with his performance in the Eagles, 29-10, season-opening win over the Cleveland Browns last Sunday in Philly. Weíll see how Wentz, who threw for 278 yards and two touchdowns in his NFL debut, will handle the next round of pressure in his first road start in primetime on Monday Night.
The Bears and Jay Cutler will likely play like they have something to prove, because they do have to put together a strong performance after losing, 23-14, on the road in Houston in the season opener last Sunday. Chicago coughed up a 14-10 halftime lead last week when the defense wore down and gave up 13 unanswered points in the second half, but Cutler and the suspect Bears offense hardly helped going 4-for-13 on third downs (30%) to lose the time of possession battle to Houston (37 minutes to 23). The Bears and Cutler will likely be itching to get a second chance against the rookie Wentz and the Eagles this week on Monday Night.
In the eyes of the bookmakers, the Bears will have a lot to prove because when this game opened the only listed the Bears as 2.5-point favorites. The odds have since moved the hook to make the Bears the standard minus -3 favorite at home at most sportsbooks, as the oddmakers have seen some early action on the Eagles from bettors clearly only focused on week one results.
The over/under total opened at 42.5 and has also moved the hook to currently be listed at 43 at a few books, but its still sitting at 42.5 at plenty and will likely move up or down a half-point before kickoff on Monday anyway.
As impressive as Wentz was in his first game, it helped quite a bit that the Eagles defense stuffed the Browns and disrupted QB Robert Griffin III timing in the passing game so much that they sacked him three times before knocking him out of the game for good late in the fourth quarter. The Bears would be wise to keep trying to establish the running game against the Eagles, despite their struggles to get Jeremy Langford loose for much against Houston in the opener (only 73 yards on 20 carries). The fact the Bear offensive line gave up 5 sacks in the opener is even more reason to try and establish the running game.
If the Bears can get the running game going and keep the ball, it will help with the teamís defensive struggles too. The Bears defense simply wore down in the second against a polished Brock Osweiller and the Texans, and a better Bears offensive performance will help a Bears defense that still has plenty of wrinkles to show Wentz in his second-ever start in the National Football League.
Historically, itís the Eagles that have enjoyed their matchups against the Bears since 2000, going 7-3 SU (including 4-2 at Soldier Field) including the last meeting in 2013 in a blowout, 54-11, when Nick Foles was relevant. However, Chicago has covered the point spread in six of those same 10 meetings in the 2000s, including 4 of the last 6, and is also 4-1 ATS in their last five games played on Monday Night Football.
Badger's Pick to Cover the Point Spread: This game always seems to go the way of the underdog, with the dog going a rock-solid 8-3 ATS in the last 11 head-to-head games. But that would mean Iíd have to back the rookie on the road for the first time in this game, which is something Iím not necessarily prepared to do just yet at this point in the season. I like Wentz Ö just not enough to play him in this spot with the Bears coming off a loss. Iíll take the Bears and Cutler to bounce back at home on Monday Night, so Iím taking Chicago minus the 3-points.
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