Plenty of Reasons to Pick 'Under' for Bears vs. Packers

Jason Lake

Saturday, November 8, 2014 2:57 PM GMT

The highest total on the Week 10 NFL odds board is in Sunday night’s tilt between the Chicago Bears and the Green Bay Packers. We know the Packers can score, but how about Jay Cutler and the Bears?

Jason’s record after Week 9: 26-36 ATS, 10-14-1 Totals

Profit: minus-34.81 units

Remember all those classic “Norris Division” battles between the Chicago Bears and the Green Bay Packers? Yeah, that was a while ago. There’s still plenty of animus between these NFC North rivals, but the days of three yards and a cloud of frozen tundra are long gone. In their place are two teams built for the new NFL. Offense? Not a problem. Defense? Let’s just say Brian Urlacher isn’t walking through that door anytime soon.

Put these Bears (OVER 5-3) and Packers (OVER 7-1) on the same field at the same time, and the NFL odds are bound to deliver a sky-high total. Which brings us to our latest very special episode of Sunday Night Football. The over/under for this game opened at 52 or 53 points depending on the book, easily the biggest total of Week 10 either way. Our consensus reports show the betting public was split at 52 points, but it didn’t take much longer for the OVER bettors to swarm the market at a 2:1 ratio and push the total to 53.5 at press time.

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55 in a 50 Zone
So how many points is too many points these days? Something like 55 might be enough to shake us out of our default OVER mode. That was the combined score the last time these two met, back in Week 4 when Green Bay whupped the Bears 38-17 (OVER 51) at Soldier Field. Things got even crazier in last year’s season finale, when the Packers won the NFC North with a dramatic last-minute touchdown in a 33-28 victory (OVER 51).

Before that? Smashmouth football, for the most part: The UNDER went 11-1 in their previous dozen games dating back to 2008. It’s still Aaron Rodgers (113.6 passer rating this year) and Jay Cutler (95.8 passer rating) trading shots at quarterback, and it’s still Mike McCarthy coaching the Packers, but the Bears under sophomore head coach Marc Trestman are not quite the same Bears of modern NFL folklore.

 

Brian Salad Surgery
The most obvious difference with Trestman’s Bears is on defense. In Lovie Smith’s last year at the helm, Chicago had the NFL’s most efficient defense according to the DVOA charts at Football Outsiders, and third overall according to defensive SRS at Pro Football Reference. Once Smith was fired and Trestman was hired, the Bears defense slipped to No. 25 in defensive efficiency and dead last in defensive SRS.

We shouldn’t pin all of that on Trestman. The aforementioned Urlacher retired after the 2012 season, robbing the Bears of their eight-time Pro Bowl linebacker and the beating heart of their defense. Fellow LBs Geno Hayes (Jacksonville) and Nick Roach (Oakland) left as unrestricted free agents, as did CB D.J. Moore (Carolina). Then Chicago ended up putting four defenders on injured reserve during the 2013 campaign, including two-time Pro Bowl CB Charles “Peanut” Tillman. Not a good start for Trestman.

 

Contains No Peanut
It could have been worse. As a noted Quarterback Whisperer, Trestman was able to get quality results from back-up QB Josh McCown (109.0 passer rating) while Cutler was injured, and the Bears were less than minute away from winning the division. Chicago’s offense improved from No. 26 in DVOA under Smith to No. 6 under Trestman. And OVER bettors reaped the rewards at 12-4.

It’s not looking quite so good this year. Tillman went on IR again, the defense is still lousy at No. 23 overall, but now the offense is No. 14 overall (No. 14 pass, No. 8 rush) even though Cutler is putting up some of the best numbers of his career. Injuries have gotten to the offensive line and the receiving corps, too. It’s bad enough that we’re tempted to bet the UNDER for our NFL pick, especially with a 50 percent chance of snow Sunday afternoon and more snow expected on Monday. We’ll let Old Man Winter do our work for us.

Free NFL Pick: Bet one unit on UNDER 53.5 (–108) at YouWager