Arizona Cardinals (4-3, 4-3 ATS) vs. Chicago Bears (4-3, 4-3 ATS), Soldier Field, Chicago, NFL Week 9, Sunday, Nov. 8th, 1 PM Eastern, Fox
By Z-Man of Predictem.com
Point Spread: Bears -3/Cards +3
Two of the oldest teams in the National Football League meet for the 88th time when the defending NFC champion Arizona Cardinals hit Windy City to take on the Chicago Bears Sunday afternoon at Soldier Field.
Most online NFL betting shops opened this game with Chicago favored by three points, with a total of 44 or 45. And as of Thursday morning those numbers held.
The Bears are also moneylined at right around -145 with most bookies, with Arizona getting +125 as the underdog.
These two teams may have the same records, but their respective playoff hopes differ considerably. Arizona leads the still-weak NFC West by a game over the second-place San Francisco 49ers. Meanwhile, Chicago is tied for second place in the NFC North with Green Bay, three games behind already the division-leading Minnesota Vikings. The Bears also sit in a tie with the Packers and Atlanta Falcons and the Cardinals, for that matter a half-game behind the 5-3 New York Giants in the race for the second NFC wild-card berth.
Arizona began the season losing two of its first three games, but then won three in row, capped off by that big 24-17 win over the Giants in New Jersey. But the Cardinals followed that up with a flop at home Sunday vs. Carolina, falling behind 28-7 midway through the second quarter on their way to a 34-21defeat. Arizona also became the second double-digit NFL favorite this season (out of 23) to lose outright.
Going into Sunday’s game, the Cardinals defense led the league vs. the run, allowing just 69 YPG. Carolina then ran for 270 yards. So through their first seven games, thanks mainly to their own pedestrian running game, Arizona is getting outrushed by opponents by a 9665 YPG margin.
Chicago lost its season opener at Green Bay, then won three in a row. The Bears then lost consecutive road games at Atlanta and badly at Cincinnati, but got a break on the schedule last Sunday and beat the incompetent Cleveland Browns 30-6, easily covering the line as 14-point home chalk.
The Bears are outgaining opponents so far this season by a 320-310 YPG margin, but are getting outrushed 111-93.
Arizona, of course, moves the ball mainly through the air. So far this year, QB Kurt Warner had completed 65% of his pass attempts for 6.8 YPA, compared to 7.7 last season, with 11 TDs and 11 INTs, for an 81.5 passing rating. Five of those interceptions happened Sunday vs. Carolina.
Warner’s counterpart Sunday, Bears QB Jay Cutler, has not quite been the savior some thought he was going to be in Chicago. On the season, Cutler has completed 64% of his throws for 7.0 YPA, with the same TD/INT ratio as Warner, 11 and 11, and an 80.8 rating. And more importantly than the numbers, he’s made some poor plays in some important situations.
Arizona ranks 11th in the league this year in average time-of-possession at +1:12, while Chicago ranks 15th at + :26.
These teams have played one common opponent so far this year. The Bears rallied in week 3 to win at Seattle 25-19, while two weeks later the Cardinals beat the Seahawks on their home turf 27-3. Chicago actually got outgained by Seattle 346-318, while Arizona dominated the Seahawks 342-128.
The last time these two teams met was Coach Denny Green’s famous they are who we thought they were game three years ago, when the Cardinals blew a 233 fourth-quarter lead on two Chicago defensive touchdowns and Devin Hester’s punt return for a score with three minutes to go.
Going back to last season’s playoffs, the Cardinals have won and covered the spread - obviously their last four true road games.
On the injury front, Arizona WR Anquan Boldin is still dealing with a hurting right ankle, and is listed as doubtful for Sunday. On the other side, the Bears’ defense soldiers on without LB Brian Urlacher.
The totals are 2-5 in Arizona games this season, which have averaged just under 43 points per, and 3-4 in Chicago games, which have averaged 44 points.
NFL home teams are 64-51 straight up this season, and 53-61 against the spread; favorites on the betting lines are 80-36 SU and 61-54 ATS; and home favorites are 53-25 straight up, 38-39 vs. the numbers.
Sagarin’s PURE POINTS rankings at USAToday.com rate the Cardinals at 21.7, the Bears at 21.1. Throw in Sagarin’s updated NFL home-field advantage figure of 1.4, and Chicago is about a one-point favorite over Arizona on the Sagarin line.
Zman’s Pick: I like the Bears to win and cover. Could very well be a 3 point game though so you might wanna tease it or buy a half point.