Jay Cutler and the Chicago Bears head to Lambeau Field in Green Bay, Wisconsin on Thursday night to face Aaron Rodgers and the Packers in a big NFC North game. Who should we back with our NFL picks?
The Green Bay Packers find themselves tied with the Minnesota Vikings for 1st Place in the division. With Green Bay a stellar 9-1 ATS the L10 in this historic NFL rivalry and 22-8-1 ATS the L31 in this series, is automatically backing the Pack in the friendly pastures of Brown County the way to go? Let’s take an in-depth look at this Thanksgiving Day Eve contest and all of the key information, NFL Odds, Trends and significant Injuries and come up with a solid NFL pick or three.
Chicago Bears vs. Green Bay Packers [Friday 01:30] (NBC (US), Sky Sports 1/HD (UK); SiriusXM Satellite Radio National Broadcast—SIRI 88 (Internet 88); 8:30 p.m. EST/5:30 p.m. PST): The Green Bay Packers (7-3 SU, 6-4 ATS) welcome the Chicago Bears (4-6 SU, 5-5 ATS) in this Week 12 and Thanksgiving Day Eve inter-conference affair from historic Lambeau Field in Green Bay where the Weather Forecast looks Rainy, maybe even a little Snowy, or, perfect football for TV viewing. Current odds (Wednesday morning) have the host Packers anywhere from 8½- (MGM Mirage) to 10-point (Sportbet) favorites with the Total in this contest at 46 or 47 (MGM Mirage) most places. On the Money Line, the favorite Packers are priced at -400 with the underdog Bears priced at +346 on the takeback (Pinnacle). The Chicago Bears Team Total Points has been set at 17½ (bet365) for this game while the Green Bay Packers Team Total Points has been set at 27½ (bet365). Two Alternate Lines: Packers -12½ +135, Bears +12½ -175; Packers -13½ +150, Bears +13½ -200 (bet365). The Advanced Line from the Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook here in Sin City here had the Packers open up as 7-point favorites.
The Chicago Bears (214 PF-251 PA) starting QB Jay Cutler is back in the saddle in the Windy City and has made the Bears a much better team although a tough schedule and the Vanderbilt product’s penchant for making at least one stupid mistake continues, making Chicago a fun team to watch and be aware of for the Future (2016/17 Regular Season). This is a team with many key Skill Players hurt or less than 100% and if 1st-year Head Coach John Fox can continue the progress he has made in October and November and the Bears Defense can continue to improve, than this team may be able to taste the Postseason again...someday. But, as always, the problem lies in living in the hostile NFC North with Aaron Rodgers and these Packers and now Teddy Bridgewater and the improved Minnesota Vikings (7-3), and having to play them both twice annually (25% of the Schedule) and somehow try to jump over them or snag an NFC Wild Card spot. It will never be easy for the Bears until Rodgers retires from Green Bay.
Here, as usual, Chicago has a Laundry List of guys beat up including RB Matt Forte (Knee) who is listed as Probable, TE Martellus Bennett (Ribs), WR Eddie Royal (Knee), WR Alshon Jeffery (Shoulder) and RB Ka’Deem Carey (Shoulder) who are all listed as Questionable—which in my mind means they will see some action—and the team also activated Rookie WR (West Virginia) Kevin White (Shin) on Tuesday, so, who knows. S Antrel Rolle (Groin) is listed as Doubtful for the Bears heading in here while Chicago has six guys stuck on the Injured-Reserve List in S Ryan Mundy (Hip), RB Senorise Perry (Hip), DL Cornelius Washington (Undisclosed), C Will Montgomery (Leg), DL Ego Ferguson (Knee) and speedy WR and Oregon State product Jacquizz Rodgers (Arm).
Green Bay Packers
The Green Bay Packers (249 PF-198 PA) come into this game off a huge Win over the Minnesota Vikings (7-3) at TCF Bank Stadium in Minneapolis last Sunday in Week 11 play as RB Eddie Lacy finally awoke from his Fall slumber, much to the delight of the Packers (24.9 ppg, #9 in NFL) faithful as the visitors deadlocked the 1st-place race in the NFC North with the big win over a team in which they’ve held the upper hand over of late. Here, we can expect a lot of RB Lacy and James Starks running the ball here with probably equal portions of Passing with WR Randall Cobb, WR Davante Adams and TE Richard Rodgers being the California product Rodgers’ main targets. If you watch closely, you can see Rodgers is just not himself, partly because of the suspect Green Bay OL and the absence of his favorite target, Jordy Nelson, but also in part because of a nagging Shoulder problem and sometimes when trying to put full weight on his Right Foot.
Playing QB in the NFL is not for the feint of heart nor those who don’t want crooked Toes and Fingers when they’re 55. Besides Nelson (Knee), Green Bay (+750 to win Super Bowl, Betfair Sportsbook) and Head Coach Mike McCarthy (96-67-4 ATS) have some Injury concerns with C Corey Linsley (Ankle), Rookie (Stanford) WR Ty Montgomery (Ankle) and DB Micah Hyde (Leg) all listed as Questionable for this game while S Sean Richardson (Neck), TE Andrew Quarless (Knee), DT Josh Boyd (Ankle) and LB Sam Barrington (Ankle) are all still stuck on the Packers Injured-Reserve List.
Series Numbers, Recent Relevant Trends and Realistic Game Expectations
When these two fierce NFC North rivals met earlier this season in Week 1 at Soldier Field in Chicago, the Packers won 31-23 and covered ATS as 6-point favorites while last season in Green Bay, the Packers grated Chicago like cheddar cheese, 55-14, easily covering the 9-point spread. The Jordy Nelson-less Packers are now 9-1 ATS the L10 against the Bears and 3-1 ATS the L4 in Brown County and the Packers are 4-5 SU and 4-5 ATS on Thursdays and 3-2 ATS at Home in Lambeau Field on Thursday nights while the Bears are 4-5 SU and 2-6 ATS and 2-4 ATS on the Road on Thursday nights. Without prolific WR Nelson, a suspect OL and Defense, a hobbled Rodgers and a Head Coach who often makes the silly decision, Green Bay is seeing how hard it is to get back to the NFC Championship Game and what happens here should have significance in both the divisional and conference races.
On Offense, expect Chicago to rely heavily again on electric Rookie (Michigan State) RB Jeremy Langford—and veteran Forte if he comes back—WR Marquess Wilson and TE Zach Miller with RB Carey, WR Jeffery, WR Royal all hobbled. But expect some of these guys to play here in such a big game against a heated rival in primetime on Turkey Day night with the season on the line. The bears activated top Draft Pick WR Kevin White (Shin) on Tuesday, so maybe the West Virginia product may be unveiled with the Thanksgiving pumpkin pie? Despite the scoring in the first meeting in Chitown and gunslinging mentality QBs Rodgers and Cutler, the Under (47) may be worth a look here—please check out the 1st Quarter Under also (1st Quarter 9½ -120, PaddyPower)—with the Packers (18.8 ppg allowed, #5 in NFL) a bit hobbled and prioritizing Wins now over quick, downfield Possessions on Offense.
The Under is 15-4 in the L19 Bears games in Week 12 and 6-2 ATS in Chicago’s L8 overall while Packers Unders are 7-3 this Regular Season and 6-3 ATS on Grass (Lambeau Field). And although it goes into the Midwest Teeth of the strong Green Bay Trend (9-1 ATS L10 vs. Bears), taking Chicago +9½ or 10 (Sportbet) if you can find it (or make it by buying the ½ point) seems a sane approach here as the Bears are playing much better and although the Packers need and will likely get the Win, Chicago and HC Fox are getting the Packers (4-10 ATS L14 in November) at the perfect time here and if Bears QB Cutler is on and some of these Skill Position guys get some heavy minutes, Chicago may press the hosts. The Wind Chill forecast here in Green Bay is 31° Thursday night and there are reports of Rain possibly changing to Snow cropping up, so this one could be some great gridiron theater.
Predicted Final Score: Green Bay Packers 24 Chicago Bears 20