Green Bay Packers vs. Chicago Bears Preview and Pick

Green Bay Packers (5-9) +4, 41 O/U at Chicago Bears (8-6) -4, 41 O/
U, Soldier Field, Chicago, Ill., 8:30 PM Eastern, Monday, ESPN

by Badger of

The Chicago Bears look to keep their slim hopes of an NFC North Division title and NFC playoff birth alive when they welcome their
oldest rival in all of football into Soldier Field, the Green Bay
Packers, on ESPNs Monday Night Football this week.

These two teams met up in Green Bay on Lambeau Field just four weeks
ago in a game the Bears would surely like to forget, as they were on
the bad side of a lopsided 37-3 score that day. But fortunes have
changed drastically for both teams since that middle of November day,
as the Bears are still scratching for a playoff birth while the
Packers have already packed it in for the offseason.


The Bears have won three of their last four games since that blowout,
and still have a shot at an NFC playoff birth. They kept the dream
alive with a come-from-behind 27-24 victory over New Orleans last
Thursday in overtime. But they will need some help and a few
Minnesota Vikings losses to get to the postseason, as their only real
chance would be as the NFCs North Division winners, a division the
Vikings can wrap up with just one win in the final two games.

The Packers thought they had everything going for them following the
lopsided thrashing of the Bears last time. But things came crashing
down around them as they have lost four straight since and all but
one of the losses have come after they failed to hold onto a late
fourth-quarter lead. Last week made it the third week in a row the
Packers lost in the final minutes of the game, losing to Jacksonville
20-16 when the Jaguars scored the go-ahead score with just 1:56 left
on the clock.

Oddsmakers have hit this game on the head from the start, as the
numbers havent moved far from where they opened at early in the
week. The Bears opened as 4.5-point favorites, and that number has
only dropped the hook as most sportsbooks now list the Bears as 4-
point faves. The total opened at a modest 43, and with the threat of
bad weather the total is down to 41 or even 40.5 at a few of the
bigger offshore sportsbooks. The Bears are also listed as -210
favorites on the moneyline, with the Packers listed as +175 underdogs.

Offensively this should be a game worth watching because the last
time they played it was the Packers who could do nothing wrong.
Running back Ryan Grant ran for a season-high 145 yards, the Packers
as a team ran for over 200 yards and quarterback Aaron Rodgers threw
for 227 and two scores as the Packers offense clicked at virtually
every phase of the game plan.

The Bears on the other hand struggled. Quarterback Kyle Orton, in his
first game back from his ankle sprain, was largely ineffective and
was actually pulled for Rex Grossman in the second half. Running back
Matt Forte was held to 64 yards and the Bears offense in general was
controlled to the tune of just 234 yards of total offense.

Defensively these teams have gone in opposite directions as well.

The Bears, with the 27th-ranked pass defense in the league (233.6
ypg), have been playing well down the stretch. Last week they held
Drew Brees to just 226 yards passing and picked him off twice. The
week before they held Jacksonville to just 159 yards and a pick, so
they have responded and turned it up a notch once the weather has
gotten cold.

The Packers pass defense on the other hand has gone south for the winter already. Once a strong and proud unit (still 13th at 206.3
ypg), the Packers have been gouged by New Orleans (318 yards),
Houston (409 yards) and Jacksonville (229 yards) in recent weeks, as
they just cant seem to make plays in the fourth quarter. The unit
was already weak versus the run (26th 138.4 ypg), so not defending
the pass is a recipe for disaster and the Packers will miss the
playoffs because of it.

Chicago has held the upper hand in the rivalry until their last November meeting. All told, the Bears have won five of the last seven
head-to-head, including a 35-7 stomping over the Pack last year at
Soldier Field in the bitter cold.

Bettors will have to search long and hard for an edge, as the Bears
hold a slight 5-4-1 ATS record in the series over the last 10
meetings. Although, the Packers do seem to play well in Chicago, as
they are 7-2 ATS in the last nine games at Soldier Field. However,
those two ATS losses were in two of the last three games in Chicago,
so take it for what its worth.

Despite expected inclement weather, the over still looks like a solid bet. Green Bay has gone over the total in 22 of their last 31 games
overall and in nine of their last 12 road games. The Bears have gone
over the total in 20 of their last 27 home games and in nine of their last 13 home games played in Decembers chilly conditions.

Badgers Pick: Never underestimate the Packers will to knock their hated rival Bears out of the playoffs, which is why this game screams live dog to me. The temperature is expected to be single digits, which is why I expect a slow, grind-it-out style of play from both
teams. That style favors the Bears. Either way, I dont see a lot of
scoring so Im bucking the betting trends (62% are on the over) and taking the under here. Take the under of 41.