Taking Stock: Bears Blowout Fits the Bills in Lopsided Matchup

Dusty Streets

Wednesday, October 31, 2018 6:55 PM UTC

Wednesday, Oct. 31, 2018 6:55 PM UTC

Betting on sports can be as risky as playing the stock market. Taking Stock finds the key bullish (positive) and bearish (negative) factors for your sports picks. Let's check out Sunday's Bears-Bills NFL matchup.

Dusty's 2018 NFL picks record: 4-1

Chicago at BuffaloSunday 1 p.m. ET (FOX)Free NFL Pick: Bears ATSBest Line Offered: Bovada

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The Chicago Bears are entering this game with a simple goal: Get off the roller coaster and get on a roll and coast. In the past two weeks the Bears went from the top of the NFC North to the bottom and back to the top. The opportunity to secure their division-leading status after the first Sunday of November -- who would have believed that in August? -- goes through Buffalo, where the Bills are embarrassing double-digit home underdogs.

The Bears opened as -8.5 road favorites on the NFL odds board; at press time the number had jumped to -10 at most sportsbooks and even -10.5 at a select few. Chicago is 4-3 both straight-up and against the spread; Buffalo is 2-6 SU and 3-5 ATS. Chicago leads the all-time series 7-5, but Buffalo won the most recent meeting, 23-20 in overtime in 2014.

This is Chicago's fourth consecutive game against an AFC East team, with three in a row against divisional foes up next. Looking ahead would not only be a mistake, it would reveal how much more the Bears need to mature to be taken seriously.


Bull Market

The Bills' effort in Monday night's 25-6 loss to the Patriots was admirable. Their defense allowed Tom Brady and the New England offense only one touchdown, and that came in the fourth quarter after a plethora of field goals. Buffalo ranks sixth in the NFL in total defense -- one spot ahead of Chicago, by an average of a half-yard per game. Linebacker Matt Milano leads the Bills with seven tackles for loss, and he was the Week 3 AFC Defensive Player of the Week after getting a sack, interception and fumble recovery against Minnesota. The big discrepency between the teams is in scoring defense, with Chicago ranked eighth (20.6 ppg) and Buffalo tied for 20th (25.0 ppg).

The Bears are coming off a solid 24-10 win over the Jets, with Jordan Howard (81 yards, 1 TD) and the running game finally making an impact. Mitchell Trubisky threw for two touchdowns, the passing game benefitting from excellent blocking by wideouts Kevin White and Taylor Gabriel. Chicago is averaging 27.7 points per game, the ninth-most in the league.

More bullish factors to ponder:

  • Bears are 4-1 ATS vs. a team with a losing record.
  • Bears are 6-1 ATS in their last seven games after accumulating more than 350 total yards in their previous game.
  • Bills are 4-1 ATS in their last five games when playing on Sunday following a Monday night game.
  • Bills are 5-2 ATS in their last seven games following an ATS loss.

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It's been a long time since #Bears have boasted this kind of balance between offense and defensehttps://t.co/J8KDJlLrpU

— Bears Insider (@bears_insider) October 31, 2018
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Bear Market

Buffalo ranks last in the league in scoring with an average of 10.9 points per game. And just when you thought things couldn't get worse, think again. With rookie first-round pick Josh Allen (elbow) and veteran Derek Anderson (concussion) ailing, Nathan Peterman will likely start at quarterback Sunday. The 2017 fifth-round pick has atempted 81 passes in his career; nine have been intercepted. Peterman's 11.11 interception percentage is the NFL's worst in the past 40 years.

The Bills' defensive performance against New England could hurt them this week, given the physical and emotional effort they spent trying to upset a division rival. Will they be flat against a non-conference opponent?

The Bears' offense took a hit Sunday when lineman Kyle Long suffered a foot injury that will sideline him for at least six weeks. He joins several Bears battling injuries. Defensive star Khalil Mack (ankle) and wide receiver Allen Robinson sat out the Jets game and their status for Sunday was not known at press time. Mack attended the University of Buffalo, and his brother Ledarius currently plays there.

More bearish factors to ponder:

  • Bears are 0-4 ATS in their last four road games vs. a team with a losing home record.
  • Bears are 6-13 ATS in their last 19 road games.
  • Bills are 1-4 ATS in their last five home games vs. a team with a winning road record.
  • Bills are 1-4 ATS in their last five games in November.

Investment Strategy

The Bears have not been such big road favorites since their famous 2006 Monday night game against Dennis Green's Cardinals ("They are who we thought they were"). Trubisky needs to break his pattern of starting games slowly, and in that regard Buffalo's defense presents a challenge. The Bills historically play well ATS in a Sunday game following a Monday game, but their offense is in such disarray that whatever spark their defense provides will be wasted. With your NFL picks, look for the Bears to cover and -- dare we say -- stay atop the NFC North at their halfway point in the season.

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