Denver Broncos (7-2 SU, 4-5 ATS) vs. Chicago Bears (4-5 SU, 5-4 ATS)
NFL Week 11
Date/Time: November 22nd, 1:00 PM EST
Where: Soldier Field
TV: Direct TV
by Jeff Hochman, Professional Handicapper, jhsportsline.com
Point Spread: DEN +1.5/CHI -1.5
Over/Under Total: 41
Two teams heading in opposite directions meet in this Week 11 matchup. The Denver Broncos have lost two straight after opening the season with seven consecutive victories. Last Sunday, Denver lost 29-13 as 4-point home favorites against the Chiefs. Kansas City outgained Denver 303-221, while taking advantage of the Broncos’ five turnovers. Four of those turnovers were by QB Peyton Manning (5 of 20 for 35 yards) who looked old and slow. Some reports have Manning never playing again. I can’t believe that, but he’s out indefinitely. Manning’s QB rating of 67.6 is a career low through the first nine games, so him not playing might actually be a good thing. The Bears have won two in a row after losing two straight and are eyeing a Wild Card berth. Chicago shocked the Rams 37-13 as 7.5-point road underdogs and it wasn’t a fluke. The Bears outgained the Rams 397-285, while holding the ball for over 34 minutes. Jeremey Langford looks like an emerging star especially in the passing game. He’s averaging 15.6 yards per catch and 3.7 yards per run this season in limited action.
You can’t preview this game without mentioning that Brock Osweiler is replacing Peyton Manning under Center. I know the Broncos’ organization loves Osweiler and all of his skills. He’s big, mobile, and has a strong arm. The bigger question is weather he can read an above average NFL defense in the regular season. He has played great in the last three preseasons, but the regular season is a completely different story. Osweiler will be facing a Bears defense that allows 335 yards, which ranks eighth. The Broncos’ defense is ranked first, but they haven’t been sharp the past two weeks. Injuries and a suspension have played key roles in the Broncos surrendering 53 points while losing two straight. Denver’s defense was on the field a lot thanks to many three-and-outs by Manning and the offense. Defense travels well in the NFL and if the Broncos can get healthy (Emmanuel Sanders & DeMarcus Ware are questionable), than the Broncos will get back on track. I like Osweiler and I believe he’s going to be a very good QB in this league.
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Chicago Bears head coach John Fox knows Brock Osweiler pretty well, having coached him when he was with the Broncos. What Fox doesn’t know is how the Broncos’ offense will look schematically from what they have seen on tape so far this season. I would expect more plays under center from Osweiler and a lot of play-action on early downs. Both defenses have been solid against the pass which is one of the reasons why this total (41) is below the league average (44.8). The Bears are allowing 217 passing yards per game while the Broncos are allowing a league low 182 per contest.
The Bears are ranked No. 27 in team defense efficiency while the Broncos are ranked No. 1 according to Football Outsiders. This is different than overall team defense which just accounts for yards and points against. I think Brock Osweiler will be an upgrade over Manning. While the Broncos’ defense is nicked up they do have good depth up front. They should perform better as they will be spending less time on the field. Cornerback Aquib Talib returns from his one-game suspension which should help contain a hobbled Alshon Jeffrey. He’s been limited in practice and will likely be on a “pitch” count. Jeffrey was in on only 35-of-65 snaps while playing with an injured groin last week.
The NFL Las Vegas Power rankings (comprised of odds-makers) have the Broncos ranked No. 5 with an index of 24. On the flip side, they have the Bears ranked No. 21 with an index of 18.5. Even with home field advantage the numbers suggest the Broncos should be a 2.5-point favorite. They are begging you to take the home team with this current point spread. The “sharps” in Vegas believe the Broncos are the better team going forward. Lets see, the Broncos are averaging 22.8 points per game and the Bears are averaging 22.1 That adds up to 44.9 points which is almost four full points below this total. Temps are expected to be near 30 degrees which explains the lower total.
The Bears are 3-10 SU and 4-9 ATS when playing a team with a winning record over the last three seasons. The Bears are 8-12 SU and 5-14-1 ATS in home games over the last three seasons. The Broncos are 30-3 SU and 21-10 ATS when playing on a grass field over the last three seasons.
Jeff’s Pick to Cover the Point Spread:Denver Broncos +1.5 & Over 41
Seven win teams that committed 5 or more turnovers are 14-3 straight-up in their very next game. There is a reason the Broncos never traded Brock Osweiler for draft picks. They know he’s capable of performing at a high level. Lets hope Emmanuel Sanders and DeMarcus Ware (check status) are both healthy enough to play, which would make these selections stronger. I would expect some turnovers which will lead to better field position and a higher-scoring game. Check the forecast as we get closer to game time. If you see windy conditions than stay off the Over.
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