Jacksonville Jaguars (1-3 SU, 2-2 ATS) vs. Chicago Bears (1-4 SU, 1-4 ATS)
NFL Week 6
Date/Time: Sunday, October 16 at 1pm ET
Where: Soldier Field
by Evergreen, Expert Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: JAX +2.5/CHI -2.5
Over/Under Total: 47
They say somedays you’re the dog and some days you’re the hydrant. If that is true, then two hydrant franchises are squaring off this weekend at Soldier Field as the Jacksonville Jaguars head to Chicago to take on the Bears. Neither team is off to a great start this season but hope spring eternal in the NFL and ties are rare so someone is going home with a W after it is all said and done. Each teams is dealing with all the issues that come along with a one-win start but to be fair, both teams do have some good things going for them and will look to parlay those positives this weekend.
This one would be a sure-fire pick’em on a neutral field but the Bears are listed as 2.5 point favorites at the majority of online betting sites. The Jags have not fared well as the visitor, going 2-5 against the spread in their last seven on the road, including zero ATS wins the last four games. Chicago combats that with some negative trends of their own, going 0-5 ATS when hosting a sub-.500 team and the Bears have just eight ATS wins in their last 32 games at home.
Despite the 1-3 start, Jacksonville has played well twice in losses, dropping a 27-23 decision to Green Bay and lost 19-17 to Baltimore. Their win came in London two weeks ago when Blake Bortles threw two touchdown passes and zero interceptions and the Jags nipped the Colts by a 30-27 score. Keeping the turnovers down is key for the Jags. Their defense has been better than in years past but they aren’t good enough to cover up for two-plus interceptions from Bortles and that has happened way too often. Some good news for Jacksonville comes in a positive injury report for TE Julius Thomas, he is expected to play after missing the last two games with an elbow injury.
Chicago is a bit of mess right now. They are dealing with injuries but also a fractured locker room. News also surfaced that had former Bear tight end Martellus Bennett essentially running down the whole franchise. Jay Cutler has missed the last three games with a bad thumb and it appears that Brian Hoyer will get the start again this week. Hoyer has played remarkably well in relief, throwing for over 300 yards in each of his three starts, something Cutler has never accomplished in his career. Alshon Jeffery is not a Hoyer fan however and there were several instances last week that saw the receiver throw his hands in the air out of frustration, most notably on the last play of the 29-23 loss to Indianapolis. Assuming everyone can play nice, Chicago has a top-10 passing offense to go after the Jags with. That should be a good match given Jacksonville has held the likes of Aaron Rodgers and Philip Rivers to under 200 yards on average.
Allen Robinson and Allen Hurns can be brutal coverage assignments, especially when Bortles is right and there are injuries in the Chicago secondary. Bryce Callahan and Deiondre’ Hall are both listed as questionable for Sunday and that could spell trouble for a Bears secondary that has been burned more than a few times. Chicago has struggled against the run, allowing 118 yards per game but the Jags have not got T.J. Yeldon or Chris Ivory going. Neither back is over 3.5 yards per carry and Jacksonville is the 3rd worst rush offense overall. They need to get something going on the ground to take the pressure off Bortles and the passing game.
Alongside the Cutler injury, Jeremy Langford and Kevin White are also missing from the Chicago offense. The youth movement has proved successful however with Jordan Howard and Cameron Meredith pressed into action. Howard is averaging 5.8 yards per carry and Meredith has the size that calls to memory the days when Brandon Marshall was lined up on the other side of Alshon. Zach Miller and Eddie Royal have been getting it done over the middle and underneath and it’s clear that there is a familiarity built when they all worked the second unit with Hoyer. Howard should find some room to run against a Jags defense that is allowing over 100 yards to the opposing ground game and the Bears should be able to improve on their 30th ranked, 17 points per game with Jacksonville allowing nearly 28 per contest.
I like Jacksonville coming off a bye. They have some momentum built after the win overseas and they should have the healthiest Chris Ivory to date. The Bears have played well on offense in terms of moving the ball but that has not translated to points and they give up nearly 26 per game. The Jags defense is young but likely the better unit of the two and Bortles is probably the better quarterback between him and Hoyer. Give me the points for sure alongside the better QB and defense and I am even calling for the not-so-big upset here. Jacksonville 23 Chicago 21
Evergreen’s Pick to Cover the Point Spread: Jacksonville
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