Chicago Bears (7-3 SU, 6-4 ATS) vs. Oakland Raiders (6-4 SU, 7-3 ATS), 4:05 p.m. EST, NFL Week 12, Sunday, November 27, 2011, Oakland-Alameda County Stadium, Oakland, California, TV: Fox
by Scotty L, Pro Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: Chi +4.5/Oak -4.5
Over/Uner Total: 41.5
The Chicago Bears travel to West to take on the AFC West-leading Oakland Raiders on Sunday. Both teams have enjoyed successful seasons so far, but the attention on this game immediately turns to Chicago QB Jay Cutler. Injured trying to make a tackle on an interception runback on Sunday, the Bears field general will miss at least the the last 6 games of the regular season. The Bears went from being 7-3 and looking good beating the Chargers to a team with a dicey future.
The Bears are a team that relies heavily on defense and their running game, so maybe the situation isnt so dire. A number of veteran quarterbacks are also available. As it stands now, however, they are handing a 7-3 team off to QB Caleb Hanie, a name that might not necessarily inspire confidence. Even if an acquisition is made, it is doubtful that player will be ready by Sunday. Watching the Bears this season, it is clear that Cutler was a big part of their success, which includes a current 5-game winning streak. Its a big loss.
The right medicine for their woes is probably something other than going to Oakland to face the first-place Raiders. With the loss of QB Jason Campbell, the Raiders took a step back as they struggled for a few weeks. The irony is hard to miss, as the Bears are likely in that same spot this week. It took new QB Carson Palmer a little time to find his bearings and the Raiders now have their legs under them, winning two in a row and assuming the top spot in the AFC West.
Now it remains to be seen if he Bears can absorb such a key personnel loss and keep playing well. Sometimes when you have a forward-moving machine like the Bears have been in the last five games, there is something to be said for inertia. This train is on a winning track and even with the conductor out of commission, dont expect an immediate derailment.
The defense is giving up a little over 16 points per game during their 5-game streak. Bears RB Matt Forte is nearing 1000 yards and you dont have to be Johnny Unitas to dish him off the ball on short passes, as he also has 46 receptions. With return threat Devin Hester also in high gear at the moment, this is a team that still figures to score points.
In defeating the Vikings on the road on Sunday, Cutler was 17-23 and Michael Bush ran for 100 yards. Bushs performance with Darren McFadden out for the last 4 games has been phenomenal, with 454 yards rushing. They lose McFaddens breakaway potential, but Bush has filled in nicely. It was disconcerting to see leading receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey carried off the field on a stretcher on Sunday and he listed as questionable for the Bears game. But as has always been the case this season, expect other players to step up if Heyward-Bey is unable to go. But with starting center Samson Satele also questionable after a concussion, its clear that Chicago isnt the only team suffering from injuries.
With only a pair of divisional games remaining, Oakland needs to win these games. If Denver continues to play well or if San Diego has their customary second-half explosion, the 6-4 Raiders divisional lead could be in peril. Expect a passionate Raiders crowd. They are usually raucous and will be even more so now that they actually have something to get excited about for the first time in a while. Projected Bears starting quarterback Caleb Hanie, or whoever they put in there, figures to have an uncomfortable afternoon.
Scotty Ls Pick to Cover the Point Spread: Cutler didn’t figure to be a major player in this Sunday’s game anway, as it’ll be the Matt Forte show because Oakland can’t stop the run. The Raiders appear to be hot, but the truth is that they’ve gotten their last two wins versus a Charger team that was really banged up and a Vikings team that beat themselves! My prediction is the Bears and the points. I think Chi. wins straight up too!
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