Here's our top NFL pick for this Week 15 NFL Monday Night Matchup, for a pair of 5-8 SU ATS teams, each in very different places in the hierarchy of the NFL standings: Saints vs. Bears.
New Orleans (-3/53-) vs. Chicago Bears 8:30 ET ESPN
Chicago enters in last place in the NFC North with no hopes for a playoff party. Though New Orleans features the same 5-8 SU record, a victory tonight can vault them past a Carolina team, who at 5-8-1 SU is currently leading the NFC South. This line is currently made with New Orleans’ need factored into the equation. Yet, as many late season teams have discovered, “with need you bleed.”
The Chicago Bears are a mess! They enter tonight on a 2-5 SU ATS run, coming off a loss of 17 at Detroit (2 weeks ago) and a 41-28 loss on this field last week to the Dallas Cowboys. In that game, the Cowboys dominated the Bears overland 194-35 and profited from a +2 net TO margin. Tonight, Chicago will play without WR Marshall, their best receiver who is out for the season. Chicago is just 2-4 SU home, on a run of 0-6 ATS as home dog, including 0-3 ATS in that role for the last 2 years. The running game is lacking with 22 attempts per game, good for just 89 YPG. The defense allows 29 PPG, 378 YPG and 6.3 YP play. Only the motivation of MNF could prevent this team from tossing the towel. For, at the end of the season, the Bears figure to have a new head coach, defensive coordinator and starting signal caller.
New Orleans is one of the biggest underperformers in the NFL this season. In the absence of current HC Payton in 2012, this team went from 14-4 SU in 2011 to 7-9 SU in 2012. Look no further than a defense that allowed 28 PPG, 147/5.1 overland and 440 total yards, the worst in the NFL. Last season, with the return of HC Payton and DC Ryan, the Saints improved to 12-6 SU, mostly because their defense improved from 28 to 19 points allowed and 440 to 301 yards allowed. A continuation of that excellence had many pundits believing that New Orleans could contend for NFC superiority. Behind QB Brees, the offense has held up their end, averaging 26 PPG and 421 YPG, good for 6.2 YP play. But, it is a defense that has again let down the New Orleans Saints. Reverting to 2012 form, New Orleans has allowed 28 PPG and a league worst 6.4 defensive yards per play. The Saints enter on a 1-4 SU slide, including 4 consecutive home losses (after winning 21 straight on their home field under HC Payton). Ironically, that home/road dichotomy has reversed itself with the Saints entering with 2 consecutive road wins and 3 consecutives road covers. But, they are just 1-7 ATS road chalk of late and 2-4 SU on the road this year. In last week’s embarrassing home loss to Carolina, New Orleans was outrushed 271-92.
In a battle of 2 teams on the decline, it is easy to knee-jerk to a New Orleans team, who at least has the motivation of the playoffs. But with this line impacted with that need, my opinion is that the value side in this game lies with the home dog Chicago Bears.
A better proposition lies with the OVER 53. As pointed out above, these 2 teams are each allowing at least 6.3 defensive YPP, worst in the league. With each of the teams favoring a passing attack, there will be little negative impact from a weather forecast that shows temperatures in the high 40’s, winds in the low teens with light rain. From a technical perspective, note that primetime games continue to fly OVER the NFL Odds total at a 32-12 rate with the subset of non-division games, now 20-3 OVER in primetime action. The Bears get a high-scoring home field win!
Free NFL Pick: Bears & Over 53.5 at The Greek