Chicago Bears (6-6 SU, 2-9-1 ATS)
The Bears were on a mission Monday night and they accomplished exactly what they set out to do off the arm of Josh McCown who torched Dallas for four touchdowns through the air and one on the ground as he accounted for five total TD’s and a dominating 45-28 victory, covering the two-point impost in NFL odds with ease. Matt Forte had over 100 yards on the ground and a touchdown while Alshon Jeffery continued his string of circus like catches with a spectacular endzone grab at the tail end of the first half to move the Bears ahead 24-14.
After McCown’s stunning performance on Monday night the Bears may now have backed into the dreaded quarterback controversy upon Jay Cutler’s return. While it’s not certain who will be barking signals under center when the teams take the field this Sunday, head coach Marc Trestman did not waver in the least.
"There's no change in the plan," Trestman said. "We'll see where Jay is this week. He'll have to be released by the doctors. When Jay is ready to play, he'll be playing."
The fact that McCown has thrown for over 1800 yards, 13 touchdowns and only one interception in his seven starts while posting a Total QBR of 85.7 has tongues wagging among the Chicago faithful. However, in fairness this is no fresh-faced kid with boundless potential. McCown is a 34-year old veteran who has had his shot for 11 years to establish himself as a starter. The fact that he’s lighting it up now may be more of a case of catching lightning in a bottle than suddenly becoming a bona fide superstar.
Cleveland Browns (4-9 SU, 6-7 ATS)
The Cleveland Browns were just the latest to be added to Tom Brady’s legacy for miraculous comebacks. In case you were on another planet and just arrived home, Brady led the Patriots to an astounding 27-26 victory after being down 12 points with 2:39 remaining. However, the Browns hurt themselves by committing two penalties in the final 61 seconds and failing to secure an onside kick which led to the Patriots’ stunning rally.
Though there are many culprits in the Browns latest loss, you cannot fault starting quarterback Jason Campbell as he tossed for three TD’s and 391 yards through the air. Unless Campbell gets injured, expect to see him under center for not only this game but the duration of the season. Brandon Weeden was miserable in Cleveland’s loss to Jacksonville and the Browns two first-round picks in 2012 appear to be a bust with Trent Richardson dealt to Indianapolis earlier this season and Weeden faltering as a not-ready-for-primetime player.
NFL Free Pick:
I’m not really sure it matters who is under center for Chicago but if I had my druthers, McCown would get the nod even if it were under the pretense of giving Cutler “an extra week to rest.” Josh Gordon may be tearing it up in Cleveland but I don’t see the Browns being overly enthusiastic after losing a heartbreaker last week and realizing that they are simply playing out the string until next year.
I like the reinvigorated Bears in this spot even though they will be taking on a stout Cleveland defense with All-Pro defensive back Joe Haden leading the way. I’m not convinced the Browns will be able to keep pace with McCown’s (or Cutler’s) aerial acrobatics so this one looks, dare I say…easy? Take Chicago for your NLF picks in this match-up.
Play Chicago +1 ½ at Bet365.com in your NFL picks.