Tennessee Titans (5-6 SU, 4-7 ATS) vs. Chicago Bears (2-8 SU, 3-7 ATS)
NFL Week 12
Date/Time: Sunday, November 27, 2016, 1:00 PM EST
Where: Soldier Field, Chicago, Ill.
TV: CBS, DirecTV 707
by Badger, Expert Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: TEN -5/CHI +5
Over/Under Total: 42
The Tennessee Titans are fighting for their lives to try and stay alive in the AFC playoff chase, and this week they just might catch a break when they travel to Soldier Field in Chicago to take on the injury-riddled Bears in an early Sunday game on CBS.
Just when you think the young Titans have turned the corner, like an impressive, 47-25, victory over the Green Bay Packers two weeks ago, the boys from Nashville seem to give it right back like when they lost to the Indianapolis Colts last Sunday, 24-17. The Colts jumped on the Titans to the tune of a 21-point lead just 20 minutes into the game, and Tennessee was never able to dig out of the early hole dropping back down below the .500 mark and behind the Colts a full five teams away from the AFC’s final wildcard playoff spot (11th seed).
But as bad as the Titans are feeling these days, at least they can take comfort that they are not the Chicago Bears.
The Bears not only lost to the New York Giants last Sunday, 22-16, but worse their already depleted roster took even more hits to it. Not only did the Bears lose two of their more productive players on offense when both QB Jay Cutler (torn labrum in shoulder) and TE Zach Miller (broken foot) when down for the rest of the season, but leading tackler LB Jerrell Freeman became the second Bears player in as many weeks to receive a four-game suspension for testing positive for PEDs (Alshon Jeffery served game one of his 4-game suspension last week). At 2-8 the Bears were clearly in the spoiler’s role for this season anyway, but now Chicago fans have written off the 2016 entirely and are hoping they can somehow find a way to leapfrog Cleveland for next year’s No. 1 pick in the draft … or have already started the countdown clock to the day when the Cubs start spring training.
This game actually opened as a pick at several of the early-line sportsbooks late on Sunday night, but on Monday as news broke that Cutler was likely done for the season with a shoulder injury the Titans climbed all the way up to 5-point favorites on the road as everyone jumped off the Bears bandwagon in full force.
The over/under total also had a fair share of line movement on Monday as well, going from 44.5 or 45 when it opened all the way down to where it currently is sitting at 42.
For obvious reasons, the total has dropped because the Bears will be inserting their third different starting QB this season when third-stringer Matt Barkley makes his first NFL start on Sunday. With offensive line injury issues galore (T Bobbie Massie, G Josh Sitton both questionable), no tight end, no Alshon Jeffery and a third-string QB to boot … trying to predict what kind of offense the Bears will play and how well they will play it on Sunday is a total crapshoot.
At least we should get a good idea of what the Titans are made of on Sunday, whether they are truly contenders or just pretenders in their climb back into the AFC playoff picture. Marcus Mariota is emerging as one of the league’s top young QBs, and DeMarco Murray is enjoying a comeback player of the year type of season at running back with over 1,000 yards and 11 TDs this season. Murray should especially enjoy the fact that Freeman is suspended for this game, as the Bears will be without one of the main bright spots on a defense that has actually played well this season (10th in total defense, 12th vs. the run).
Since this game features an AFC-NFC cross-conference matchup, history will be hard to use as a guide as far as which side to be on at the betting window (if you really need history to pick a side). Tennessee actually won the last meeting at Soldier Field back in 2008, 21-14, but otherwise its been all Bears including the last meeting in 2012 (a 51-20 Bears victory) and four of the last five overall dating back to 1995. The under has proven to be a solid wager winning in five of the last seven meetings, but with the number dropping all the way down to 42 at most books, even that has lost a ton of its value and could be an easy mark to hit if Mariota and Murray find the holes in a depleted Bears defense.
Badger's Pick to Cover the Point Spread: With Thanksgiving games to wager on, and an otherwise full slate of other Sunday games (no byes this week) with better point spreads and more value … I’d say to stay clear of this game and walk away from it entirely. But if I had to make a wager on this game, I’d go to the other side of the steam on the total and take the over of 42. Chicago should find a way to get 10 to 17 points, and I think the Titans turn it lose and rebound from last week’s disappointment and get it back up in the 30-point range. I’m taking the over of 42.
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