Green Bay Packers vs. Chicago Bears Preview and Pick – Point Spread

Green Bay Packers (8-4 SU, 7-4-1 ATS) vs. Chicago Bears (5-7 SU, 4-8
ATS), Week 14 NFL, 1:00 p.m. EST, Sunday, December 13, 2009, Soldier Field,
Chicago, Ill., TV: FOX

by Badger of

Point Spread: Packers -3/Bears +3
Over/Under: 41

The oldest rivalry in professional football and one of the NFLs best
and most heated rivalries in the black-n-blue NFC North Division will
kickoff another edition this Sunday when the Chicago Bears host the
Green Bay Packers at Soldier Field in Chicago.

The Packers continued their march toward the NFC playoffs by winning
their fourth game in a row on Monday Night, 27-14, over the Baltimore
Ravens. The Pack controlled the tempo in running out to a 17-0
halftime lead, but the Ravens closed it to 17-14 before quarterback
Aaron Rodgers threw one of his three touchdowns in Green Bays 10-
point fourth quarter to pull away and maintain the Packers grip on
one of the wildcard spots in the NFC.

The Bears finally ended a tumultuous and season-killing four-game
losing streak last weekend by beating the St. Louis Rams at home at
Soldier Field, 17-9. Quarterback Jay Cutler didnt throw any
interceptions, although he had just 18 attempts, as the Bears finally
decided a little too late to get back to the running game of Matt
in the easy victory over the one-win Rams.

For the Packers this has become an ultra important game because with
two games remaining on the schedule at Pittsburgh (next week) and at
Arizona season finale), the Packers really need a win over the rival
Bears on Sunday to solidify their spot in the NFC wildcard standings.

Trying to keep their hated rivals to the North out of the playoffs is
plenty of motivation for Chicago and coach Lovie Smith, and a win
would give Bears fans an early Christmas present finish to what
otherwise has been a hair-pulling season.

The point spread for this game opened with the Packers as 3-point
favorites on the road and for the most part the line has yet to move
in either direction. There are a few offshore sportsbooks that have
moved it up the hook to Green bay minus -3.5, but those are a scant
few as a majority of the books are still sitting right at 3.

Even though there has been little action in regards to the point
spread, the early line movement with the over/under total has been

The game opened with the total at 43 at the few sportsbooks that open
their windows early and set the line (like at the Las Vegas Hilton),
but most of the offshore sportsbooks that wait an extra day on
releasing the total opened it a day later at 41.

So consequently, you can get anywhere from a 43 (Hilton and Planet
Hollywood) or even 43.5, all the way down to 41 (at
the rest of the offshore books) since nobody seems to agree on where
to set the total for this contest.

Offensively you can expect the Bears to continue with the run-first
approach with Forte that seemed to get away from them rather easily
during their losing streak. With Cutler putting extra pressure on
himself during his interception run, the Bear offensive coordinator
Ron Turner certainly didnt make it an easier calling 40 to 50 pass
plays a game, like he did in losses to the 49ers and Philly.

Forte had 91 yards rushing and a touchdown in the victory over the
Rams, and the Bears as a team ran for 120 yards and had 20 more
running plays than pass plays called in last weeks win, so it
appears that someone or something has happened to get the Bears
offense back on track. Theres no reason the Bears with Forte are
ranked 30th in the league in rushing (87.9 ypg).

What will be interesting to see is how well the Bears can run it on
the Packers, the No. 1 ranked defense in the NFL (273.5 ypg). The
Packers allow only 87.2 yards per game on the ground (4th), and held
a run-first Baltimore team to just 66 yards last week, so it wont be
easy for the Bears. The Packers also forced three sacks, had three
interceptions and recovered a fumble in a dominating performance over
the Ravens.

The Bears offense may also be forced to play catch up, or better yet, keep up with Rodgers and the Packers offense. Rodgers (3,399, 25
TD, ) has been stellar, both in his play and his decision-making, and
the Packers issues along the offensive line appear to have been
fixed. The Pack is ranked 7th in scoring (26.9 ppg), a full touchdown
better then the Bears 22nd-ranked unit (19.4 ppg).

These two played the first game of their season series back in the
regular season opener in September, a 21-15 victory for the Packers
when Cutler threw his fourth interception in the closing minute. That
was the first of many Cutler meltdowns this season, as the Bears
actually outgained (352-to-226) and outplayed the Packers on the day,
but couldnt overcome the turnovers to let the Packers win and cover
the spread as 4.5-point home favorites.

That was one of the rare times a favorite has covered in this series,
as the underdog is 4-2 ATS in the last six games head-to-head.

While the Bears have enjoyed a 6-4 SU edge in the last 10 meetings
(3-1 SU at Soldier Field), the Packers have been the better wager for
bettors with a 5-4-1 edge in the same 10 games that expands to a
12-5-1 ATS edge if you stretch it out over the last 18 meetings.

The Packers are also a very strong team to bet on when theyre on the
road, going 17-7-1 ATS in their last 25 road games overall, and 8-2
ATS in their last 10 visits to Soldier Field.

The under has cashed in three games in a row, and has cashed in five
of the last seven, but the under is just 3-2 in the last five games
in Chicago.

Badgers Pick: Rivalry games never go the way you expect them on paper, so I expect the Packers to have their hands full with a fired
up Bears team on Sunday. The Bears always play the Packers tough, and
Lovie Smith has made it his stated mission to beat the Packers at all
costs (as he stated at his first press conference when he was
announced the head coach), so Im taking the home dog here. Take
Chicago plus 3 points.