Chicago Bears vs. Baltimore Ravens Preview and Pick – Point Spread

Chicago Bears (5-8 SU, 4-9 ATS) vs. Baltimore Ravens (7-6 SU, 7-6
ATS), NFL Week 15, 1:00 p.m. EST, Sunday, December 20, 2009, M&T Bank Stadium,
Baltimore, Md., TV: FOX

by Badger of

Point Spread: Bears +11/Ravens -11
Over/Under: 40.5

The Baltimore Ravens will try and take one step closer to the AFC playoffs on Sunday when they host the Chicago Bears at home in M&T Bank Stadium.

The 7-6 Ravens are one of the six remaining teams in the AFC vying for the final two wildcard spots, and they face a must-win scenario in order to maintain their position near the top of the pack.
Baltimore took care of business with a 48-3 thrashing of Detroit last
weekend, and the Ravens must keep the pedal to the floor if they hope
to win out the rest of their schedule (at Pitt, at Oak) and qualify
for the AFC playoffs for a second straight season.

The Bears on the other hand will be playing out the rest of their
schedule before they dust off their golf clubs for January. Chicagos
savior at quarterback, Jay Cutler, threw two more interceptions in a
21-14 loss to Green Bay last week to turn what was once a season of
promise into a season of finger pointing and turmoil in the Windy City.

What is more surprising is how far the Bears have fallen in the eyes
of the oddsmakers in Las Vegas. In early November the Bears were
actually considered 1-point favorites on the road in Cincinnati (a
game they got stomped 45-10), this week they opened as 9.5-point
underdogs on the road at Baltimore. In fact, most of the public money
is on Baltimore as well, because the point spread has moved up to
Ravens minus -11 points at most of the sportsbooks offshore and in
Las Vegas.

The over/under total has not seen as much line movement as the point spread, opening at 41 early in the week before settling in at 40.5 on
the board at just about every book that offers totals.

Alright, I know the Bears have injury issues on defense (LBs Brian
Urlacher and Pisa Tinoisamoa both on IR, CB Charles Tillman and
tackle Tommie Harris both questionable), but Im not sure why this
current Baltimore Raven offense is such a heavy chalk at home in M&T.

The Ravens have injury issues of their own at receiver (Mark Clayton,
Derrick Mason and Kelly Washington are all questionable), and
quarterback Joe Flacco has his own issues about throwing the ball to
the other team (15-to-11 TD/INT). The Ravens now depend on running
back Ray Rice (166 yards last week, 1,041 for season), and are
nowhere near the same passing offense that led to a 34.5 points per
game average in September.

The Bears offense will be playing out the string this season, which might prove to be the last for offensive coordinator Ron Turner. The
Bears rank dead last in rushing yards per game (85.7 ypg) and have
major issues along the offensive line. Veteran left tackle Orlando
is listed as probable for Sundays game, which will move Chris
Williams back to right tackle and help against the solid Ravens pass
rush and blitz package.

Cutler will likely have to play without Devin Hester again this week (doubtful), so young wideouts Devin Aromashodu and rookie Johnny Knox
will be called upon to make most of the plays in the passing game for
the Bears Sunday.

Ravens safety Ed Reed is once again listed as questionable for the game on Sunday, which will go a long way to help the Ravens shore up the middle of the field and prevent Cutler from finding his favorite
target, tight end Greg Olson. Missing Reed didnt hurt last week
because they played the Lions, but two weeks ago against the Packers
young tight end Jermichael Finley torched them for 79 yards and two

History is brief between these two teams, playing just twice in the
last decade. The Bears won at Soldier Field in the last meeting in
2005 by a 10-6 score as 2-point favorites, while the Ravens won at
their home in 2001 by a 17-6 score as 9.5-point favorites. Lifetime
the Ravens hold both a 4-3 SU edge and 4-3 ATS edge in the series,
which dates back to the 1986 season.

There are a few other shocking betting trends to keep in mind for
this game.

The Bears are 0-4 ATS on the road, 0-6 ATS in their last six overall
and 1-10 ATS in their last 11 games as an underdog. Meanwhile, the
Ravens are 12-4 ATS in their last 16 games as a favorite and 11-5 ATS
in their last 16 home games.

The under has been a solid play as well, going 7-3 in the Ravens last 10 games at home and 11-4 in the Bears last 15 road games.

Badgers Pick: I know all of the betting trends are against me, I
know the Ravens have so much more to play for and I cant believe Id
even consider wagering anything on Cutler and the Bears right now.
But I just dont think the Ravens offense is healthy enough or good
enough to be 11-point favorites to the Bears. Take Chicago plus the