New Orleans Saints (5-8 SU, 5-8 ATS) vs. Chicago Bears (5-8 SU, 5-8 ATS)
NFL Week 15
Date and Time: Monday, December 15, 2014, 8:30 pm EST
Where: Soldier Field, Chicago, Ill.
TV: ESPN, DirecTV 206
by Badger, Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: NO -3/Chi. +3
Over/Under Total: 54.5
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Two NFC teams that have both slumbered to 5-8 records will each try and not underachieve in front of a national primetime audience on Monday Night Football this week, when the New Orleans Saints travel to Soldier Field to take on the Chicago Bears on ESPN.
If you havent heard by now about the Saints ineptitude, and the general disappointment of the NFC South in general this season, then you need to crawl out from under the rock youve been under these last few months and google it soon. New Orleans established a new low last week with perhaps the most embarrassing loss in the Sean Peyton-Drew Brees era, when they let Cam Newton and the three-win Carolina Panthers come into the Superdome and completely dominate them with over 500 yards of total offense in a, 41-10, shellacking. Despite the Saints peeing down their leg week after week, they still sit tied atop the NFC South with the Atlanta Falcons with three weeks remaining on the season, and a HUGE game head-to-head with the Falcons next week if they dont get caught looking past the Bears this week on Monday Night.
Football fans in Chicago have been counting down the weeks anticipating the end of the season for over a month now, as the Bears have been a consistent underachiever all season long now. When the Bears are bad, they are really bad, and to add insult to injury not only were they embarrassed in a, 41-28, loss to the Dallas Cowboys at home at Soldier Field last week on Thursday night, but they also lost the only player on the team that still seemed to care when receiver Brandon Marshall broke a few ribs just before halftime in the loss to the Cowboys.
With nothing left the play for the Bears find themselves in the role of spoiler again, and while they may be playing to try and help head coach Marc Trestman keep his job, there are multiple other players that should be looking around the room (yeah, you Jay Cutler) and playing with a sense of urgency as GM Phil Emery tries to keep his job too ion deciding who to keep and who to ship off in what will no doubt be an offseason full of player turnover in Chicago.
As the folks in Las Vegas will say someone has to be favored in this matchup on Monday Night, but it is a little surprising to see the visiting Saints installed as 3-point favorites on MNF. Although, it does appear that Saints are a better team away from the pressure of the Big Easy, as they have won their last two away from the Superdome while losing their last four at home.
The over/under total opened at 54 and has moved up the hook to 54.5 at most sportsbooks in Las Vegas and offshore on the Web.
The total will likely climb a little more prior to kickoff because both of these teams field two of the weakest defenses in the entire NFL. New Orleans is 31st in yards allowed (399 ypg) and 30th in points allowed (27.6 ppg), while the Bears come in as the 28th in yards allowed (379), but dead-last 32nd in points allowed with a league-high tally of 29.1 through 13 games in 2014. Sure the Bears and Saints have suffered their fair share of injuries, particularly in the secondary for both teams, but you know as well as I do that Dick Butkus, the Monsters of the Midway and the old Saints bounty defense of the past must cringe and roll up into the fetal position just at the mere sight of these teams and their style of defense these days.
Offensively both Cutler and Brees can sling it, and with the core of players out on the perimeter youd expect both teams to roll up huge numbers come Monday night. But like always, the offense can only go as far as the offensive line allows them to and both units are severely underachieving despite being built to protect both quarterbacks and with former All-Pros lined up across both lines. New Orleans has played there best football when they feed the running game with a lot of carries, and with Pierre Thomas and Mark Ingram ready to take on more of the load against a Bear that is at its best against the run (16th 112 ypg), Brees throwing it might be the best option.
New Orleans went into Soldier Field last season and beat the Bears as slim 1-point underdogs, 26-18, in a game that saw both QBs put up strong numbers (Brees 288, 2TD; Cutler 358, 2TD). Historically these two always seem to play close games, with the biggest margin of victory when the Bears won by eight back in 2007 in the playoffs at Soldier Field. New Orleans is a better wager though, going 5-2-2 ATS over the years, but that betting trend is negated by the fact that the home team is a solid 4-1-2 ATS in the last seven head-to-head meetings between these two.
Not only does the over look like a great play based on the crap defense both of these teams are playing these days, but its also a solid trend play as well, since the over is 5-1 in the last six games played in the series when they play in the Windy City at Soldier Field.
Badgers Pick to Cover the Point Spread: I been burned by both of these teams so many times this season that I really have no interest in wasting my time on this game. But if youve read this far, I feel obligated to throw you a bone for this one. Its a pick-your-poison type of wager, but Im always a fan of playing the home underdog. So I cant believe Im saying this, but Ill take the Bears at home plus the points.