Chicago Bears (13-3 last season) +6, o/u 42 at San Diego Chargers (14-2), 4:15 Eastern Sunday, Fox
by Zman of Predictem.com
The defending NFC champion Chicago Bears tip off the newest NFL regular-season with a visit to San Diego for a clash with the defending AFC West champion Chargers Sunday afternoon on Fox.
The Bears went all the way to the Super Bowl last season, where they lost to the Indianapolis Colts 29-17. So Chicago is now fighting a set of nasty trends as they enter this season. Just two of the last seven Super Bowl losers have made the playoffs the following season, and the last team to get to the Big Game the season after losing it remains the 1994 Buffalo Bills.
San Diego posted the best regular-season record in the NFL last season, but didn’t even make it to the AFC title game. The Chargers lost in the divisional round to the New England Patriots, spelling the end for head coach Marty Schottenheimer.
Last year, the Bears ranked 15th in both total offense (325 ypg) and rushing (120 ypg), fifth in total defense (294 ypg) and sixth vs. the run (99 ypg).
Meanwhile, San Diego ranked fourth in total offense (365 ypg), second in rushing (161 ypg), 10th in total defense (302 ypg) and seventh vs. the run (101 ypg).
Chicago also ranked 12th in average time-of-possession (30:34) and fourth in turnover margin (+8), while the Chargers ranked fourth in time of possession (31:39) and third in TO margin (+13).
These two teams last met in a game that actually mattered back in November of 2003, when the Bears beat San Diego 20-7 in Chicago.
Rex Grossman, still the starting QB for the Bears, is 19-8 (including playoffs) as a starter in the NFL. Last year, Grossman completed 55% of his throws and compiled a 23-20 TD/INT ratio.
Chargers QB Philip Rivers hit on 62% of his passes last year and put up a 22/9 TD/INT ratio.
In the backfields, Cedric Benson takes over for Thomas Jones as the main groundman for Chicago. On the other side, San Diego has some guy named Tomlinson, who apparently ran for over 1,800 yards last season and set an NFL record for TDs in a season with 31.
The Bears went 7-1 straight up on the road last regular season, 4-3-1 against the spread.
The Chargers went a perfect 8-0 straight up at home last season, 5-3 vs. the numbers.
The o/u went 11-4-1 in Chicago games last season, 9-7 in San Diego games.
The Chargers opened up as six-point favorites for Sunday’s game, with a total of 43. And while the line has held steady, the total has been bet down a half-point or so at most online sportsbooks.
Also, San Diego is posted at -270 on the moneyline, with the Bears getting +230.
The Predictem Pick: This is one tough game! Both teams have great defenses and you know the old saying “defense wins games.” That’s why we have to lean to the Bears because their getting almost a touchdown. Why couldn’t this be a three point game? It’s actually very likely. Then again, we don’t have that much confidence in this so we’re calling it a lean rather than a pick. There’s many better games on this weekend’s card to pick from. Max bet: Lunch money on Bears at +6.