This should be a good game, the type we'd enjoy watching even if we didn't have a “rooting interest.” But we might as well try to make a little cash while we're watching, eh?
The Updated Number
Most sportsbooks we consulted opened the total on this game at right around 55.5, then bumped it to 56, which is where it sat as of Saturday morning.
Bears-Eagles Game Set-Up
Both these teams, at 8-6, are in first place in their respective divisions. But a word of caution is necessary here, because this game might not mean life-and-death to either of these teams. In fact, it might not mean anything at all.
If Dallas loses to Washington earlier in the day Sunday, Philly can win the NFC East with a victory. But if the Cowboys beat the 'Skins, Sunday night's game becomes meaningless to Philadelphia, because the NFC East title would then be decided when the Eagles visit Dallas next week.
Philly head coach Chip Kelly has been quoted as saying that regardless of what the Cowboys do Sunday, his team will be out to win Sunday night. But coaches sometimes say funny things.
Chicago is in a similar situation; it can clinch the NFC North Sunday if Green Bay and Detroit both lose earlier in the day. But if the Packers win and the Lions lose, Sunday night's game becomes meaningless to the Bears, because the North would then be decided when Chicago hosts Green Bay next week.
We go forward with our analysis of this game under the assumption that both the Eagles and Bears will give genuine efforts Sunday night.
Normally we might think two teams in a game like this, with late-season playoff implications, would play, maybe not conservatively, but at least a little closer to the vest than usual. But that's not who these two head coaches are.
The forecast for Sunday night in Philly sounds interesting; temps in the 50s, breezy with a very good chance of rain.
How will this affect the scoring in this game? You'd think it would be harder to throw and catch and kick a ball when its raining and windy. But that doesn't necessarily mean a game will be low-scoring. Just look at what's happened over the past couple of weeks in the NFL, when scoring records were set on a day during which five games were played in cold/wind/snow.
It may sound like hyperbole, but Chicago's Robbie Gould is one of the best ever at putting a foot to a pigskin in the NFL. And he's played half his games at one of the toughest places in the league to kick, often windy and muddy Soldier Field.
This season Gould is 25-for-28 on field goals, with a long of 58 yards. But he did miss a key kick, from 47 yards, in overtime against the Vikings at the Metrodome a few weeks ago. We were shocked.
Philly K Alex Henery is 21-for-26 on field goals this season, with a long of 51.
Bears-Eagles Betting Trends
Chicago is 10-4 on the OVER/UNDERS this season, as Bears games have averaged a healthy 57 points per.
Philly is 8-6 on the totals, as Eagles games have averaged 51 points.
Up until last week Philly had held nine opponents in a row to 21 points or less. In this day and age in this league, that's a pretty good run.
Chicago LB Lance Briggs has missed the last seven games with a shoulder injury, and while he's trying to work his way back, his status for Sunday is still up in the air. And even if he plays, how effective will he be?
Our Take on the Total
For our free pick on the side in this game we took Philly, with the understanding the game would mean something to the Eagles. Bettors might want to know the outcome of the Dallas-Washington game earlier in the day before getting down on this one.
Many items point toward the OVER on this game. These two teams have trended OVER all season; both teams can be very potent on offense, and both can be generous on defense. But we're just a bit leery of the circumstances this game is being played under; there a chance this game might not mean much to either team by the time kick-off rolls around. How will these coaches handle that eventuality?
Also, while we've seen a lot of points scored over the last couple of weeks in the NFL, 56 is still a big number.
So we'll go against the recent trend and take the UNDER 56 (-110) offered at Bovada for our free NFL pick on the total on this game.