The Chicago Bears haven’t been in a single low-scoring game all year. The Green Bay Packers? They nearly blew out their Week 8 NFL total all by themselves. Find out where we've decided to place our money.
Jason’s record on his final NFL picks for 2013, up to October 27 inclusive:
1-1 ML (+0.71 units)
What’s with all this No Fun League malarkey? The NFL may have a lot of issues to deal with, but you don’t hear anyone complaining about all those touchdowns. Innovation and talent have a lot to do with it; so do the recent rule changes that make it safer on the field for quarterbacks and receivers. The sharper corners of the NFL betting world have taken notice of these developments. Sunday’s Week 8 games saw the OVER go 7-4 to improve to 66-53 (55.46 percent) on the season.
One of those high-octane matchups was at the Metrodome, where the Green Bay Packers mauled the Minnesota Vikings 44-31 (OVER 47.5) in a game that wasn’t as close as the final score would suggest. That lifts the OVER to 4-3 for the Packers heading into this week’s Monday Night Football contest against the visiting Chicago Bears (OVER 6-1). The earliest NFL Odds for this bad boy opened at 49 points.
Ah! My Groin!
The last time we saw the Bears, they were losing 45-41 to Washington in Week 7; Chicago had a bye in Week 8, and a very timely one at that. QB Jay Cutler suffered a torn groin muscle after getting sacked by Chris Baker, and isn’t expected to play for at least two weeks, according to the most optimistic projections. Josh McCown took over for Cutler against Washington and will remain under center at Green Bay.
This is not welcome news for Chicago’s offense, which has been doing great things in its first year under new head coach Marc Trestman. Football Outsiders had the Bears ranked seventh in offensive efficiency going into the Washington matchup. However, Trestman does have a reputation as something of a quarterback whisperer, and McCown was 14-of-20 for 204 yards and a TD strike against Washington, with no interceptions and a passer rating of 119.6. A little more of that would be very useful in what otherwise is threatening to be another “lost season” for the Bears.
One problem: McCown rarely looked this good in his first 11 seasons as a journeyman pivot – that’s 10 years in the NFL with five different clubs (seven if you include practice squads), plus a year with the Hartford Colonials of the eminently forgettable UFL. McCown’s career numbers include a 58.2-percent completion rate, more interceptions (44) than touchdowns (38), and a passer rating of 72.0. That’s not quite replacement-level football.
We’ve got the numbers to prove it. Here’s McCown’s passing DYAR (Defense-adjusted Yards Above Replacement) numbers for the three seasons where he racked up most of his starting assignments:
2004 (Arizona Cardinals): minus-187 DYAR, No. 31 overall
2005 (Arizona): plus-85 DYAR, No. 26
2007 (Oakland Raiders): minus-289 DYAR, No. 48
Holy mackinaw! Compare those numbers to Cutler’s plus-225 DYAR this season, and you can see why Chicago fans are worried about missing the playoffs again. But they’re also worrying about a Bears defense that has slipped to No. 17 on the efficiency charts. Cutler wasn’t the only important injury from the Washington game; seven-time Pro Bowl CB Lance Briggs is also out for the next 4-6 weeks with a broken shoulder.
This is why I feel comfortable enough to take the OVER for my NFL pick despite Cutler’s absence. Green Bay’s offense ranked No. 2 overall behind the Denver Broncos going into Week 8. And the Packers aren’t exactly defensive juggernauts themselves at No. 18 in efficiency. The only bugaboo is that we’re talking about a Monday nighter (8:30 p.m. ET, ESPN) in November at Lambeau Field. Might want to bring some brandy with you to the game. Do they still make those fake binoculars with the built-in shot glasses?
NFL Pick: Take OVER 49 at BetCRIS