NFL Picks for Betting the Total in Bears vs. 49ers

Jason Lake

Friday, September 12, 2014 9:38 PM UTC

Friday, Sep. 12, 2014 9:38 PM UTC

Most bettors are happily taking the OVER in Sunday night’s battle between the Chicago Bears and the San Francisco 49ers. We’ll give you a few good reasons to make the contrarian pick part of your Week 2 NFL betting portfolio.

Jason’s record after Week 1: 1-4 ATS, 0-1 Totals
Profit: minus-6.6 units

At some point, we’re going to pick the OVER on this year’s NFL totals. Probably. But Sunday night’s game (8:30 p.m. ET, NBC) at the Field of Jeans between the Chicago Bears and the San Francisco 49ers isn’t the right place to start. There’s a total of 48.5 points on the NFL odds board as we go to press, up slightly from 48 at the open, and the consensus reports show the OVER pulling in 55 percent support after an initial burst on the UNDER. That’s the first of many reasons why we’re making the contrarian bet.


The Velocity of Time
Especially in this day and age, anytime the early NFL betting action is on the UNDER, we should drop our ham sandwiches and take notice. What time did the consensus report come in? Does it resonate with other football betting reports at our disposal? In this case, we have some very early data from last Sunday night, earlier than any other betting information we’ve got lying around the house. Timing is everything.

Our reports also show a shift toward the OVER by Monday afternoon (all times Eastern). Again, story checks out. We’re going to go ahead and assume that the earliest birds are the sharpest, and that the UNDER is the preferred choice of most discerning football betting veterans. Money see, money do.


You Can’t Win If You Don’t Score
Reason No. 2 to take the UNDER: We’re already recommending the Bears as 7-point underdogs. There’s a logical correlation between the total and the point spread, in that the UNDER should be more successful in games where the underdog beats the football odds. Fewer points, fewer chances for the favorite to cover, especially when the spread gets big. This is why sharp bettors play the underdog-UNDER when they feel like a parlay.

When making your NFL picks, keep in mind the Bears are definitely getting plenty of sharp action ATS. According to our expanded consensus reports (no longer in beta~!), the Niners have the support of roughly 53 percent of bettors, but the other 47 percent have dumped almost seven times as much money into the market (87 percent). The average bet size on Chicago is $869 as we go to press, way above everyone except the Tampa Bay Buccaneers ($1,023) in their matchup against the St. Louis Rams. High rollers, baby.


These Khakis Don’t Run
The UNDER gets even more compelling once you dive into the matchup itself. Just like it was las Thursday night in the game between the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Baltimore Ravens, Sunday night’s total is higher than usual. In fact, it’s the highest total we’ve got on record between San Fran and Chicago. That’s 16 games dating back to 1985; their previous high was 46.5 points, when Steve Young led the Niners to a 44-15 win over Erik Kramer’s Bears in the 1994 playoffs.

Granted, these are not your father’s Bears. They’ve become a much more offensively weighted team under head coach Marc Trestman. Then again, look at the San Francisco defense under Jim Harbaugh:

2013: No. 13 in defensive DVOA

2012: No. 3

2011: No. 3

We’ll attribute last year’s fallback to injuries and suspensions. The Niners still have plenty of those, but they went UNDER 49 in their season-opening 28-17 win against the Dallas Cowboys, while Chicago’s offense sputtered in a 23-20 overtime loss to the Buffalo Bills (UNDER 47). Still not convinced? The popular computer projections out there on the Interwebs appear to be coalescing around a combined score of 46-47 points for Sunday night. We’ll buy that for a dollar.

NFL Pick: Put one unit on UNDER 48 at 5Dimes

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