At one time, the Bears and Cardinals shared the devotions of those living in Chicago. But that was years ago and what those making NFL picks care about today is the sportsbooks' NFL odds or fantasy.
The Cardinals used to play across the street from where the White Sox now play at U.S. Cellular Field and nearly went bankrupt before moving to St. Louis in 1960 and later to Phoenix. Like their predecessor, the Arizona Cardinals were a bad team for decades, but since Michael Bidwell has taken over the day to day operation of the franchise, these are heady times for the Redbirds.
Chicago keeps trying to find the right answer with different coaches, but one consistency in their current state of mediocrity is Jay Cutler and they are doing the best they can to try and work around it. The NFL odds are tight on this contest, so who has the edge?
With running back Andre Ellington is expected to miss one to three weeks with a sprained knee ligament, Chris Johnson will start for Arizona. Johnson is not close to the back he used to be, but with an improved offensive line, the Cardinals averaged 4.8 yards per carry with Johnson making a contribution. Seeing that Chicago allowed Green Bay 4.4 YPC, if successful, this opens up the play-action passing game for Carson Palmer to take shots down the field to receivers Larry Fitzgerald and Michael Floyd, along with the tight ends.
Defensively, Arizona will need to stop Bears running back Matt Forte in the passing game. New Orleans scorched the Cardinals badly with screens and swing passes last week and Forte is as good a receiver as any running back in the NFL. Look for coach Bruce Arians defense to pressure Cutler and seek turnovers.
The Chicago defense pressured Aaron Rodgers some in the first half, but never touched him in the last 30 minutes and did not register a sack. However, Rodgers is far more mobile than Palmer and Bears' rushers just need to get to the spot to create pressure. Chris Johnson prefers to have the ball on the edges, thus it would seem coach John Fox's troops have to prepare more for the Cardinals attacking the outside compared to the A and B gaps. Because Arians prefers a deeper vertical passing game, Chicago will play more zone and depend on pressuring Palmer.
Every football handicapper and anyone creating NFL picks knows that Cutler won't force passes and make dumb mistakes. Last week we got an indication that the Chicago Bears staff is going to dial him back by using Forte more and feed TE Martellus Bennett. In this contest, Bennett in particular could be a big factor with how Arizona likes to blitz, along with who the Bears end up using as the slot receiver. When Cutler has his team in the red zone, the play-calling needs to crisper and the same goes for the route-running for Chicago to win this game.
Odds and What to Look For
The series dates back to 1920 when the Chicago Cardinals played the Decatur Staleys. The Staleys moved to Chicago in 1921 where they became known as the Bears. Heritagesports.eu made the Staleys, sorry, the Bears two-point underdogs and they have been adjusted to +1 with a total of 46.5.
This contest will come down to the quarterback position. This is where Arizona has an edge because Cutler is more inclined to make the big mistake than Palmer and usually at the worst possible time. This game will be close, but the Cardinals will start 2-0, winning by 4-6 points.
NFL Picks: Cardinals -2.5 at 5Dimes