New England Patriots vs. Chicago Bears Pick
New England Patriots (4-2 SU, 3-3 ATS) vs. Chicago Bears (3-2 SU, 3-2 ATS)
Date/Time: Sunday, October 21st, 1:00 PM
Where: Soldier Field, Chicago, IL
By Mike Mann., NFL Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: NE -3/ CHI +3
Over/Under Total: 50
The Patriots head south to Chicago to take on the Bears at Soldier Field in one of Sunday’s early afternoon matchups. New England leads the all time series 9-4 and have gone 4-0 against the Bears since Tom Brady took over as quarterback, with wins in their last two by an average of over 28 points per game.
Chicago is coming off a difficult 31-28 loss to Miami in which they seemed ready to take home a win but instead eventually lost a heartbreaker in overtime. The loss may stall some of the look-ahead playoff talk, as Bears fans were certainly optimistic after their team started the season with a 3-1 record and were coming off a 48-10 blowout win against Tampa Bay. Instead they lost a game they should have won to a Brock Osweiller led Dolphin team as a touchdown favorite, and now will need to regroup quickly with the high scoring Patriots offense coming to town.
To combat Tom Brady and the rest of the New England playmakers you need a strong defense, which is something the Bears have attained, especially with the early season addition of star linebacker Khalil Mack. He is part of a talented linebacker group including team leader in tackles Danny Trevathan and stand out rookie Roquan Smith. Elite pass rushers such as Von Miller have found success against the Patriots in the past, and the Bears grouping will hope to do the same on Sunday.
BEARS ON OFFENSE
Offensively the Bears are led by second year quarterback Mitch Trubisky, who has shown flashes of brilliance this season, including a six touchdown performance against Tampa Bay two weeks ago. The former Tar Heel had a strong second half against the Dolphins as well, and will need to maintain that consistency if they hope to trade points with the Patriots on Sunday. His three favorite targets will likely all play into the game plan, and include Allen Robinson, Taylor Gabriel and tight end Trey Burton.
Chicago has a strong running game that may end up being their focal point against New England. They rank fourth in the NFL in rushing yards per game thanks to the one-two combination of Jordan Howard and Tarik Cohen. This has unfortunately not necessarily translated into points for them, with the team as a whole scoring just three rushing touchdowns on the year and only two of those came from the backfield with Howard and Cohen posting one apiece.
While the Bears lost to the Dolphins a week ago, the Patriots won 43-40 in a big time matchup against the Chiefs in Foxboro. With the game tied and three minutes left on the clock, Tom Brady led a crisp game winning drive that resulted in a Stephen Gostowski field goal, and after starting out 1-2, New England now finds themselves with a 4-2 record on the season.
One key matchup for Sunday will be how the Patriots new found running game does against the powerful Bears defense. Chicago ranks 4thin the NFL in rushing yards allowed per game, thanks in large part to the aforementioned linebacking crew along with a strong defensive line led by Akiem Hicks. For New England to counter that they will likely rely on rookie Sony Michel, who has rushed for 316 yards and four touchdowns over his last three games. The multi talented James White could be used as well, though of late he has primarily be used as a receiving threat out of the backfield and is easily the team leader in receptions with 37 on the season.
An area the Patriots could find success is through the air, as the Bears rank just 22nd against the pass and the ageless Tom Brady continues to dominate on a weekly basis. Josh Gordon is now undoubtedly a starter at wide receiver along with Julian Edelman, and after a quiet start against the Chiefs, Rob Gronkowski had a big second half including the reception that setup their eventual game winning kick as time expired. One player they continue to try and get involved each week is Cordarrelle Patterson, and if they could ever devise a play to really get him in open space it could pay immediate dividends.
THE FINAL DECISION
For the Patriots to get the win on Sunday they will have to do something they have not been able to yet this season, win on the road, and will need to do so against a Bears team that has yet to lose at home this season. With the additions of Edelman and Gordon the New England offense looks like a totally different squad than the one that plodded through the first three weeks of the season, and despite playing against a tough Chicago defense, I expect Brady and the Patriots to continue their winning ways at Soldier Field on Sunday. In his first game against Belichick I expect some hiccups from Trubinsky, and by games end you can count on New England to get the win and cover on the road.
Mike’s Pick to Cover the Point Spread: New England -3