Take Bears +3.5 ATS at Home vs. Cowboys for Value Pick

Jason Lake

Wednesday, December 3, 2014 1:05 PM GMT

The trends say we should fade the Dallas Cowboys when they visit the Chicago Bears this Thursday night. But do the Bears really deserve to be anyone’s NFL pick the way they’re playing this season?

Jason’s record after Week 13: 34-46-1 ATS, 17-20-1 Totals

It’s one of the oldest rules of the old school: Never ask a bad team to cover the spread when you’re making your NFL picks. Tell that to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. And the New York Jets. And the Jacksonville Jaguars. Those might be the three worst teams in the league, and they all covered in Week 13.

As it turns out, the sharps are more than willing to go new-school for our next edition of Thursday Night Football. The Chicago Bears opened as 4.5-point favorites against the visiting Dallas Cowboys, and while Dallas was pulling in a clear supermajority of bettors on our early consensus reports, the minority holds all the power as usual. Our expanded reports at press time show the Bears with over 76 percent of the action in terms of raw dollars. The average bet size on Chicago is $246, compared to just $46 for Dallas.

 

Indefensible
Just a quick refresher on the key dynamic for this game: The Cowboys (8-4 SU, 6-6 ATS) have been lousy in December ever since Tony Romo joined the team. How lousy? Try 14-20 SU and 10-24 ATS, although you might find slightly different records depending on whose NFL odds you’re looking at. Again, don’t blame Romo. His production level only dips slightly in December.

We have to blame somebody, though. The Dallas defense looks like a good place to start. This has been a substandard unit for most of the past five seasons, and this year is no exception: Pro Football Reference gives the 2014 model a minus-1.0 DSRS, while Football Outsiders had the Cowboys defense ranked No. 25 overall (No. 21 pass, No. 18 rush) going into Week 13, when the ‘Boys lost 33-10 at home to the Philadelphia Eagles (+3).

 

All Thumbs
The wear and tear of a long and brutal season can do some serious damage to any team’s defense, but Dallas could ill-afford to lose anyone this year after the offseason departures of DE DeMarcus Ware and DT Jason Hatcher, among others. The Cowboys didn’t even make it to training camp before LB Sean Lee was lost for the season with a torn ACL. And yet they started 2014 off with a bang at 6-1 SU and 5-2 ATS.

It’s been a downward spiral ever since. Having already lost CB Morris Claiborne (knee) in Week 4, the Cowboys defense has continued to shed players: LB Justin Durant (biceps) was put on injured reserve in late October, and over the past two weeks, safety/special teams stalwart Jeff Heath, DE George Selvie and DE Jack Crawford have all suffered thumb injuries. Selvie is the only one of the three who might play on Thursday (8:25 p.m. ET, NFLN), and that’s looking pretty iffy after he put in a limited practice Monday. Like the song says, don’t let your babies grow up to be Cowboys.

 

Frame by Frame
So how do you feel about adding the Bears (5-7 SU and ATS) to your Week 14 football picks? They look like they’re ready to fold their tents after last Thursday’s 34-17 loss to the Detroit Lions (–7.5 at home). Chicago’s defense is just as battered as Dallas’, if not worse, and that minus-4.5 DSRS rating doesn’t inspire much confidence going up against Romo and the Cowboys offense.

We’re going to avoid speculating too much about Chicago’s frame of mind. Instead, we’ll stick with the data. Dallas has a lot to prove now that the calendar has turned to December. And as you can tell by the consensus reports, the big money is on the Bears this week. We’re going to follow the money. May the prolate spheroid be with you.

Free NFL Pick: Take the Bears

[/]{"component":"oddswidget", "eventId":290755, "sportsbooksIds":[19,43,227,1096,999996,93,238,123,139], "LineTypeId":5, "PeriodTypeId":1}[/]