The Chicago Bears are running out of players and running out of reasons to care for Monday night’s matchup with the New Orleans Saints. But the Saints can’t seem to stop anyone from scoring these days.
Jason’s record after Week 13: 34-46-1 ATS, 17-20-1 Totals
So much for following the money. We followed it right down the drain last week when we took the Chicago Bears as 3.5-point home dogs (+4 on the closing NFL odds) against the Dallas Cowboys. Everything about this game suggested a Dallas win, except for the betting patterns, and the long and storied Cowboys tradition of losing games in December. They didn’t lose this one. Chicago did, 41-28. Chicago also lost WR Brandon Marshall (61 catches, eight TDs) for the season with broken ribs.
That takes the Bears (5-8 SU and ATS) completely out of the playoff picture in the NFC. Do they have anything left to play for Monday night when they host the New Orleans Saints (5-8 SU and ATS)? We know the Saints do – they can still win the NFC South. But New Orleans hasn’t been playing like a team that deserves a playoff spot. The Saints have dropped four of their last five SU and ATS, including last week’s embarrassing 41-10 defeat at the hands of the Carolina Panthers (+8.5 away). So much for the power of the Superdome.
Captain Neckbeard Strikes Again
Maybe playing on the road in December will be just what the doctor ordered for the Saints. NFL odds opened them as 3-point favorites (+100) for Monday’s game, and our consensus reports at press time show 61 percent of bettors on New Orleans. These are early bettors, too, and that’s usually indicative of sharp action. But the sharps are also aware that the Saints are 7-5 SU and 4-8 ATS in their last 12 road games in December.
Let’s take a more critical look at that record, though. It includes games where New Orleans got to play in other domed stadiums; chuck those out, and you get 4-4 SU and 2-6 ATS. Another game was against the Cowboys, which barely counts as an outdoor game. Remove that one, and the Saints are 3-4 SU and 1-6 ATS since 2009.
Now let’s extend that sample to the beginning of the Sean Payton-Drew Brees Era in 2006: 4-6 SU and 2-7-1 ATS. Wouldn’t you know it, that includes a pair of games at Soldier Field:
Dec. 11, 2008: Saints 24, Bears 27 (push, CHI –3)
Dec. 30, 2007: Saints 25, Bears 33 (CHI +1.5)
We’re not dealing with particularly great Bears teams here, either. This was after their Super Bowl XLI appearance, and before they had Jay Cutler (91.7 passer rating) as their starting quarterback. The Saints went into both of those games fighting for their playoff lives, and came up dry. By the way, it was Kyle Orton (71.1 passer rating in Chicago) at quarterback for the Bears in both of those victories. Just sayin’.
We’re No. 32
And no, the Bears didn’t have great defenses those years, either. They ranked No. 16 in points allowed in 2007 and again in 2008. Things are worse in 2014, of course – Chicago is dead last at 29.1 points allowed per game. But the Saints are not far behind at 27.6 points allowed per game, and according to Football Reference, New Orleans ranks last in the league at minus-5.6 DSRS, a shade below Chicago’s minus-5.5 DSRS.
So imagine how that Saints defense will perform at Soldier Field on Monday night. The weather report at press time calls for a 50 percent chance of showers and temperatures just above the freezing mark. It’s not Superdome weather, folks. That’s the history New Orleans has to overcome Monday night (8:30 p.m. ET, ESPN). We’ve already seen the Cowboys do it, so maybe we’ll be leaning toward the Saints this time when we come back with our NFL picks against the spread and total. Stay tuned.