Green Bay Packers (9-4SU, 7-6 ATS) vs. Chicago Bears (8-5 SU, 6-7 ATS)
NFL Week 15
Date/Time: December 16, 1pm ET
Where: Soldier Field
byEvergreen,Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: GB -3/CHI +3
Over/Under Total: 42.5
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One of the best rivalries in the NFL is revisited this week when the Green Bay Packers take a short trip south to take on the Chicago Bears.This game usually needs no additional juice as the matchup is often good on its own but the NFC North is at stake and the Packers will be crowned division champs with a win as they would have swept the Bears in 2012. Chicago has lost four of its last five games after starting 7-1 and now faces the potential of dropping back into a tenuous situation for a WildCard berth if they cant put together a winning effort on Sunday.
The earliest lines opened with the Packers as a 1-point favorite but the line moved quickly to -3 and that is where it has settled across the online betting sites.The over/under total is pretty consistent at 42.5 but you can find a half point either way at a fair amount of online football bookies.Green Bay is on a roll in this series with seven wins in the last eight meetings including the last five straight.The Packers are 4-0 against the spread in the last four against the Bears and have 11 ATS wins in their last 14 games against winning teams while Chicago is just 1-4 against the spread in the last five at Soldier Field.
Green Bay really beat up Chicago earlier this year with a 23-10 win at Lambeau in a game that wasnt near as competitive as the score suggests.The Packers defense dominated the Bears offensive line and sacked Jay Cutler seven times while forcing four interceptions.Cutler was held to 126 yards passing and Brandon Marshall had his worst game of the season with just two catches as there was simply no rhythm for the offense that night.The Chicago defense did play well in limiting Aaron Rodgers to 219 yards and just one score but Green Bay was able to score on a fake FG attempt and that was about all they needed to get the win at home.
MAKE THE PACKERS A +17 UNDERDOG BY ADDING
THEM INTO A 20 POINT TEASER AT 5DIMES SPORTSBOOK
The Green Bay defense hasnt been as good as they were that night, mostly due to injuries, but do get a bit healthier for Sunday as Clay Matthews and Charles Woodson are both on track to suit up.Even if they are worked slowly back into full reps, their presence alone will give a boost to a defense that has been pretty average all year long.Jordy Nelson remains questionable with a hamstring injury but one could speculate that he will sit as the latest setback was due to him returning a bit early from the first hammy tweak.Jay Cutler missed time at the end of last weeks game but is listed as probable with a neck injury and the defense should get Tim Jennings and his team leading 8 INTs back after a shoulder dislocation forced him out of last weeks contest.The Bears will be utilizing a new placekicker after Robbie Gould was placed on IR after straining his calf during warm-ups last week.
They always say to throw out the records and stat books when division foes tangle but it should be noted that neither of these offenses appear able to take over a game from a pure stats perspective.Green Bay has been putting more effort in the run game but it remains pedestrian at best and that puts Aaron Rodgers in charge of beating the NFLs sixth best pass defense.Rodgers has been great in throwing for 29 touchdowns against just 8 interceptions with a 103 rating but the ability to move the ball at will is not there as it was the last few years and Green Bay enters the week 12thin pass yards.If Chicago stops the run, Rodgers and Co. will need to be better than they have been in the past few weeks to put points on the board.
Chicagos offense is really about Matt Forte running the ball and Brandon Marshall catching it.That is no surprise to anyone who has watched a Bear game this year but it is really telling that Marshall has 1,342 yards on 101 catches and no other Bear receiver is even above 300 yards.Marshalls nine touchdown grabs equals the total for all other Chicago pass catchers, so there is always the possibility for Green Bay to find a way to cover Marshall and put Cutler in a very uncomfortable spot. The Bears defense enters the week 3rdin points allowed at just 16.8 per game and really pose the toughest matchup for this game.There is no reason the Bears cant pull an upset this week but dont expect it to come if the defense gives up much more than 20.
The Packers are suddenly a more run oriented team and the Bears have been all along so look for the clock to be running a lot and that will put a premium on offensive efficiency.Green Bay has the edge there as the wide receivers are better as a whole despite Marshall being the best on either team and Jermichael Finley has reemerged as a viable option as well.Chicago cant win this game straight up offense to offense so again, the Bear defense is front and center.The Green Bay offensive line isnt great, probably not even good by NFL standards but Mike McCarthy has been running to keep the hits on Rodgers low and then moves the pocket on passing downs and leans on the talents of all those wideouts.The Bears will need to get pressure, especially up the middle, and keep Rodgers from hurting them down the seam or with his feet if they give him an open field to run.
December games in Soldier Field are seldom pretty and dont expect one come Sunday.The Black and Blue Division earns its nickname as two defenses find a way to limit inconsistent offenses and field position and field goals play a large role.Ultimately, the Bears havent been able to beat teams that they arent better than on paper.They have been in good games with Houston, Minnesota and Seattle but couldnt find a way to put enough points on the board to win and that sent them home with a loss.More of the same for Bear fans this week Im afraid as Green Bay makes that extra play or two and gets the win 24-16.
EvergreensPick to Cover the Point Spread: Green Bay
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