Dusty’s 2018 NFL picks record: 6-4
Sunday, 4:05 p.m. ET (Fox)
Free NFL Pick: Bears ATS
Best Line Offered: 5Dimes
Turnovers have long been an indicator of success and failure in the NFL. Exhibit A might take place Sunday at Levi’s Stadium, where the San Francisco 49ers host the Chicago Bears. The Bears are first in the NFL in turnover differential at plus-13; the 49ers are last at minus-22.
That sound you just heard was a collective gulp! emanating from California’s Bay Area.
The 49ers lead the all-time series 34-31-1, with the teams splitting four matchups from 2014-2017. San Francisco won 15-14 last season in Chicago thanks to five field goals — including the last-second game winner — by all-time Bears scoring leader Robbie Gould. Talk about a kick to the gut.
Sunday’s Week 16 matchup opened with Chicago a -3.5 road favorite on the NFL odds board. The Bears could easily surpass last year’s point total (29) by themselves. Not saying quarterback Mitchell Trubisky will light up the scoreboard like a Christmas tree, but …
Chicago owned the NFC North basement the last four seasons and was picked to extend that streak this year. Instead, the Bears are looking down on everyone after clinching the division title in Week 15 by beating (and eliminating) Green Bay 24-17, covering as -6 home chalk.
San Francisco, unable to recover from the season-ending injury to quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo in Week 3, is coming off consecutive SU and ATS victories, against playoff-hopeful Denver and Seattle. QB Nick Mullens and the Niners have the home field in their favor for the third straight week, but for wagering interests they are 7-15 ATS in their last 22 home games.
The 49ers rank a respectable 10th in rushing offense (123.4 yards per game) and 13th in total offense (364.2 ypg), but only 22nd in scoring (21.5 points per game). Conversely, the Bears are fifth in scoring (27.4 ppg) despite being 22nd in yardage (345.9 ypg). That’s a reflection of Chicago’s 35 turnovers, plus-13 turnover differential, and six defensive touchdowns — all No. 1 in the NFL. Little wonder the Bears have four Pro Bowlers on defense.
More bullish factors to ponder:
- Bears are 5-0 ATS in their last five games on grass.
- Bears are 5-1 ATS in their last six games following a straight-up win.
- Bears are 5-1 ATS vs. a team with a losing record.
- 49ers are 4-1 ATS in their last five games in December.
Trubisky passed for only 102 yards in last year’s meeting against the 49ers, and the Bears were held to 147 net yards and eight first downs. But do any of those numbers matter in this spot? Hardly. This edition of Chicago’s offense is light years ahead of where it was last season. A big reason is Pro Bowl return specialist Tarik Cohen, who leads the team with 1,115 yards from scrimmage and seven touchdowns.
San Francisco has committed 27 turnovers, tied for the third-most in the league. The 49ers have allowed 44 quarterback sacks, more than all but six teams. They have generated 34 sacks, fewer than only nine teams.
More bearish factors to ponder:
- Bears are 1-5 ATS in their last six road games vs. a team with a losing home record.
- 49ers are 3-7 ATS in their last 10 games following an ATS win.
- 49ers are 7-17-1 ATS vs. a team with a winning record.
- 49ers are 2-6 ATS in their last eight home games vs. a team with a winning road record.
The Bears are 3-3 SU and ATS on the road, losing a couple of winnable games (Dolphins, Giants) that might end up costing them a first-round bye in the playoffs. Sunday’s game falls into that “winnable” category. Coming off big victories over the Rams and Packers, the Bears can either have a letdown or ride the momentum. We expect the latter. With your NFL picks, take Chicago and lay the points.