New England Patriots (10-2 SU, 7-4-1 ATS) vs. Chicago Bears (9-3 SU,
6-5-1 ATS), Week 14 NFL, 4:15 p.m. EST, Sunday, December 12, 2010,
Soldier Field, Chicago, Ill., TV: CBS

by Badger of

Betting Odds: NE -3/CHI +3
Over/Under Total: 41

The Chicago Bears have had a hard time getting any respect from
people around the league this year despite being 9-3 and in first
place in the NFC North, but this week they can prove it to all the
doubters with a strong performance against the best of the AFC when
the New England Patriots visit Soldier Field on Sunday afternoon.

The Bears continue to keep winning and have now rattled off five
straight, but its the style in which theyre winning some of them
that is causing some to consider them a fraud. Last week they beat
the short-handed Detroit Lions, 24-20, but they needed a phantom
unnecessary roughness penalty to help them score the game-winning
touchdown in the final quarter.

Meanwhile, the Patriots make a giant statement to the league with
their, 45-3, beat down of everyones darling New York Jets on Monday
Night Football last week. Quarterback Tom Brady picked apart the
heralded Jets defense and the Pats proved that the road to the Super
Bowl for the AFC still has to go through Foxborough.

Even though there are five other afternoon games on Sunday, the Bears-
Patriots matchup is by far the best game as two playoff hopefuls
clash in the cold and snow of Soldier Field.

Oddsmakers opened the game with the Patriots as 3-point favorites on
the road, and after a few days of early wagering at the window the
number has yet to move in either direction.

The over/under total is a completely different story though. Since it
opened at 44 late on Monday night the number has dropped like a rock
to 41 at most offshore sportsbooks. There are also several 40.5s on
the board of a few books, so almost all of the early money is coming
in on the under.

With the Jets and their coach spouting their mouths off all week the Patriots offense and Brady went to work and rolled up over 400 yards
of offense in their butt-whooping of their AFC East rivals Monday.
This week they face the NFLs 3rd-ranked defense in the Bears, but
with Brady spreading the ball around in the air their offense should
be able to take advantage of the Bears weakness in the secondary
(Bears allow 215.4 ypg passing 13th).

But the constant for the Patriots has always been their offense, so
its no secret that its the defensive side of the ball where New
England is prone to giving up big yards (390.9 ypg -31st) and their
fair share of points (22.4 ppg 18th). They picked off three passes
and made the Jets look like a high school team last week, but its
the same unit that gave up over 400 yards and 34 points to the Browns
on the road, so you never really know what youre going to get.

Chicagos offense is kind of sketchy though and might not be able to
take advantage of the Pats defense. Quarterback Jay Cutler has done a
great job of cutting down on his turnovers, but the Mike Martz-led
offense doesnt rank any higher than 21st in any offensive categories
(21st in scoring 20.5 ppg; 29th overall 300.3 ypg), so it puts a
lot of pressure on the Bears defense to hold them other team down.
Against Brady and the Pats that might become a recipe for disaster.

These two teams have only met three times in the 2000s, with the last
time coming in the form of a, 17-13, Patriots win at home in
Foxborough back in 2006. All told the Patriots hold a 5-3 SU
advantage since 1985 (which includes their 46-10 SuperBowl win over
the Pats in 1986), but as far as sports bettors go its a dead heat
at 4-4 ATS.

Homefield has been a big key in the limited series between these two, since the home team is 4-0 ATS in the last four meetings. Another
betting trend that would favor the Bears this week is the fact they
are 7-3 ATS in their last 10 games at Soldier Field as the listed

The over is 6-1 in the Patriots last seven road games, but the under
is 7-3 in the Bears last 10 games at Soldier Field and is 14-6 in the
Bears last 20 games overall.

Badgers Pick: Ive cashed in a lot of bets this season riding the low point spread for the Bears each week, but this week might be the first week where Im on the other side. New England is better than 3-
points stronger than the Bears, but my gut is telling me the Bears
still might have too much fight left in them for a side. Instead Im
going to fade the public and take the over of 41 hoping that the Pats
get close to the number all by themselves. Take the over of 41.