NFL Picks: Cowboys vs. Bears Betting the Spread

Jason Lake

Thursday, December 5, 2013 2:00 PM GMT

The Dallas Cowboys have been crushing the NFL betting lines, but will Tony Romo shake off the December blues this Sunday against the Chicago Bears?

Jason’s record on his final NFL picks for 2013, up to December 4 inclusive:

33-27-2 ATS

1-1 ML (+0.71 units)

7-12-1 Totals

It’s already been quite a year for the Dallas Cowboys. They’re neck-and-neck with the Philadelphia Eagles for first place in the NFC East at 7-5 SU, and they’re one of the most profitable teams in the league at 8-4 ATS. But you can cut the tension in Big D with a knife now that the calendar has turned to December. As everyone knows, this is the time of year when QB Tony Romo turns into a pumpkin.

Or is it? NFL betting analysts and stat geeks have made a comfortable living defending Romo from accusations of non-clutchness, and they’re usually right. But maybe there is something to this whole December thing. Even Cowboys owner Jerry Jones has linked Romo to his team’s poor performance in late-season games and the playoffs. Not exactly a vote of confidence with the Chicago Bears (6-6 SU, 2-9-1 ATS) preparing to host Dallas on Monday Night Football. The Week 14 NFL lines even have Chicago as a slim 1-point favorite.

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Romo If You Want To

If you look at his career splits, Romo’s numbers do indeed dip in December – but it’s not like he turns into Steve Pelluer:

Romo (career): 64.7 CMP%, 95.8 passer rating

Romo (December): 62.7 CMP%, 89.3 passer rating

That’s a slight downgrade, and not unusual given how difficult the weather can get in December when the Cowboys play outdoors – say, at Soldier Field. Furthermore, as ESPN’s Jean-Jacques Taylor has pointed out, Romo’s December passer rating since 2009 is 106.3. Only Green Bay Packers QB Aaron Rodgers has posted a higher rating during that span.

As usual, Romo is paying the public price for his team’s shortcomings. It’s true, however, that Dallas is 11-15 SU and an awful 7-19 ATS in his 26 December starts, including 6-7 SU and 5-8 ATS since 2009, so we can’t just sweep all this under the rug. As a team, Dallas has struggled in December. That’s what you get for being a public darling that isn’t used to lousy weather.

Chicago Bears

Speaking of which, if you’re trying to get on TV Monday night (8:30 p.m. ET, ESPN) by attending the game shirtless, I’d advise against that. Especially if you’re a woman. Temperatures are expected to dip into the low teens at kick-off, with 15mph winds gusting across Soldier Field and a 15-percent chance of precipitation.

I’ll discuss these conditions more in my article about Monday’s total. For now, suffice to say the weather plays in favor of the home side. Chicago (No. 9 offense, No. 19 defense, No. 12 special teams) is already ahead of Dallas (No. 10 offense, No. 27 defense, No. 9 special teams) on the efficiency charts, and the Bears have one of the best tailbacks in the league in Matt Forte (4.5 yards per carry, 58 catches). Advantage: Chicago.

Also make sure to check out SBRs: NFL Picks: Cowboys vs. Bears Monday Night Football

Your Account Is Frozen

So why are the Bears having such a hard time getting to the pay window? They’ve covered exactly once since Week 3, and that was in Week 9 against the Packers, in the game where Rodgers broke his collarbone on the very first series. Dumb luck has something to do with it; seven of those nine ATS losses were by a combined 20.5 points, or less than a field goal per game.

Given how poorly Chicago has done against the NFL odds this year, it’s understandable that the consensus is split 50/50 for Monday’s matchup. I’ll take the home team, but it’s a one-star game for football betting purposes.

NFL Pick: Take the Bears –1 (–105) at The Greek