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NFL Week 2 – Packers vs. Bears Thursday Night Pick Against the Spread

Posted by in NFL Picks on September 11th, 2012 | Comment »

Week 2 Packers vs. Bears Pick Against the SpreadThis year we get  a taste of what it will be like to have the NFL feature a Thursday Night game each week. We start off with a fantastic NFC North matchup between two playoff contenders. In week 1, we hit our big money play in the Texans and won our Monday Night pick thanks to the Ravens. We go into Thursday Night with a full head of steam. Here’s my analysis, prediction, and pick against the spread for this game.

CHICAGO BEARS @ GREEN BAY PACKERS (-6)

Matchup History

The Packers won both contests against the Bears last year. On September 25 in Chicago, the Packers won 27-17 and covered the 4-point spread. On December 25 in Green Bay, the Packers won 35-21 and covered the 13-point spread. The Packers also beat the Bears 21-14 as 3.5-point favorites in the 2011 playoffs after splitting games in the 2010 season, which saw a 10-3 Packers win on January 2 and a 20-17 Packers loss on September 27. The Bears covered both spreads in 2010 while the Packers covered both spread in 2011.

Line Trends

54% of the public is taking the Packers against the spread and 46% of the public is taking the points. We have an even split (2-2) on the expert picks at covers.com. The line opened at Packers (-5.5) and moved to Packers (-6) as some early money came in on the Packers.

Injuries

WR Greg Jennings tweaked his groin in the 49ers game and is listed as questionable. I expect Jennings to play. Bears CB Charles Tillman injured his leg in the Colts game. He played another snap after the injury occurred, but then sat out the rest of the game. He is listed as questionable. He’s an important player for the Bears in order to matchup with the Packers deep set of receivers. Tillman’s presence has a huge effect on whether or not I would take this game.

Betting Trends

The Packers own this matchup with a 9-2 head-to-head record ATS. The favorite in Bears-Packers games is 5-2 ATS in the last 7. The under is 8-1 in the last 9 between these teams. The over is 14-4 in the Packers home games in the last 4 years.

2011 Rankings

Total Offense
Packers – 3rd (405.1 YPG)
Bears – 24th (314.1 YPG)

Scoring Offense
Packers – 1st (35.0 PPG)
Bears – 17th (22.1 PPG)

Total Defense
Packers – 32nd (411.6 PPG)
Bears – 17th (350.4 YPG)

Scoring Defense
Packers – 14th (21.3 PPG)
Bears – 19th (22.4 PPG)

Other Stats: Bears defense ranked 24th last year against the pass, allowing 251.4 YPG. Packers defense ranked 14th last year against the run, allowing 111.8 YPG.

Analysis

I can’t see the Packers starting this season 0-2. They’re coming off a home loss to a stellar 49ers team. The 49ers defense was flawless and their rushing attack was strong. I’m concerned with the Packers run defense that allowed 186 rushing yards. Things won’t get any easier for the Packers run defense this week as they’ll get a healthy dose of Matt Forte and Michael Bush, who combined for 122 yards and 3 TDs last week against the Colts.

History shows the Packers dominating this matchup against the Bears, but I’m still giving a slight lean to the Bears (+6) in this spot. The Bears have made the offseason moves to be more competitive against the Packers. Name the last time the Bears had a true WR1. You can’t. Bernard Berrien doesn’t count. Marty Booker was the last Bears receiver to have over 1,000 yards, which occurred in 2002.

Brandon Marshall is a true difference maker and why I think the Bears are Super Bowl contenders this season. His presence also opens things up for Matt Forte and Michael Bush. Cutler threw for over 300 yards in week 1 while Forte and Bush gained over 100 yards on the ground. Although it was against the Colts, over 400 yards of offense is impressive.

Perhaps I’m looking for reasons to take the Bears and the points here. Let’s go over some reasons the Bears might not cover the spread. Aaron Rodgers. 35 PPG last season and an even better PPG average at home.The Packers scored more than 40 points five times at home last season. That’s just ridiculous. Over 50% of the time, the Packers put up 40+ points at home. A compelling argument can be made why the Packers are the play to make in this game.

There are a few unknowns for me here. Can the Packers run defense bounce back after being run over by the 49ers? Does the Bears offense finally have the offensive firepower to hang with Rodgers and the Packers?

The over/under is at 54. That’s too high for me to touch and quite unpredictable as the Packers frequently hit the over when playing at home, but the trend in the head-to-head matchup favors the under. I’ll give a slight lean on the over as I expect both teams to surpass 24 points, add another TD to the mix, and you get to 55.

I’m not going to touch this game as my gut is saying take the Bears and points, who may end up pulling off a backdoor cover by scoring a late TD when the Packers are already up by 10-13 points. However, I’m not going to bet against Aaron Rodgers at home where he typically destroys opposing defenses. I think you seek the Packers up around 31-20 without 6 minutes left in the 4th quarter when a final Bears touchdown gives them the backdoor cover (and yes, they’ll miss the 2-point conversion). No confidence in the play though. I’m not touching this game.

Prediction: Packers 31 – Bears 26

Pick Against the Spread: Bears +6 (Confidence: 4/10)

Over/Under Pick: Over 54 (Confidence: 4/10)

Teaser Pick: Bears +13, Over 47 (Confidence: 4/10)



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