Thursday Night Football – Week 7 – Chicago Bears at Green Bay Packers – Free Preview and Betting Prediction
This Thursday Night, fans will be treated to an NFC North showdown. The Bears struggles this season have been well documented, and to be fair, somewhat expected. However, that isn’t the case for the Packers, where their recent run of mediocre play has fans scratching their heads.
The odds opened with Green Bay as -9 home favorites. Most of the betting action has been on the Packers since the odds opened. The latest numbers show the Lambeau Field favorites receiving about 70 percent of all wagers.
The odds at BetOnline.ag are currently Chicago Bears +7.5 (-115) and Green Bay Packers -7.5 (-105).
The total hasn’t seen such lopsided action after opening at 47 points. Betting action on the number of points scored is around 50/50 on the over and under. Currently, the total stands at 46 points with the standard -110 vig on both sides.
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The Bears – Inconsistency and Injuries
I don’t think anyone expected the Bears to make the playoffs this season, but after an offseason of spending to address their defensive needs, particularly when it came to their pass rush, there was hope we would see something better out of the Chicago this season.
That optimism is gone now and rightfully so. Chicago has managed just one win this season in Week 3, against the Detroit Lions. They hosted the Jaguars at home last week and shut out the visitors until the fourth quarter.
However, Jacksonville scored 17 points in the final period of play and the Bears only managed six points in the second half and lost by a final score of 17-16. The loss dropped them to 1-5 record on the season, last in the division.
Aside from a host of injuries on the defensive side of the ball. The Bears will be without starting quarterback Jay Cutler for another week. They will continue to roll with journeyman Brian Hoyer, who has played well (for the most part) in his absence. There has been some speculation that Cutler may not get his starting job back, even when healthy.
Wide receiver Eddie Royal has been ruled out for this week’s game with a toe injury. The offense will also be without running back Jeremy Langford once again. He has been sidelined for several weeks with an ankle injury. When he returns, he may carve out a role on offense, but is unlikely to unseat rookie running back Jordan Howard as the lead back.
The Packers – What’s Wrong with the Offense?
Green Bay’s offense hasn’t been clicking like it did years ago and now even die-hard supporters of Aaron Rodgers and coach Mike McCarthy are getting concerned. Last week, at Dallas, the Packers managed a single touchdown in a 30-16 loss to the Cowboys. The defeat dropped their record to 3-2 on the season, behind the undefeated Vikings in the NFC North.
The Packers went to a decidedly slow pace against Dallas, even when trailing. It was uncharacteristic of the high-powered, fast-paced offenses we used to see in Green Bay. Rodgers did throw for almost 300 yards, but regularly missed wide open receivers.
The offense will be without running backs Eddie Lacy and James Starks for several weeks due to injuries. They acquired Knile Davis in a trade from the Chiefs. However, wide receiver Ty Montgomery may end up seeing the most snaps at running back. Another wide out, Randall Cobb, is expected to see more carries as well in that spot.
Their injuries on the offensive side of the ball pale in comparison to the secondary. Green Bay’s run defense has been a bright spot this season, but that can’t be said for their pass defense. Top cornerback Sam Shields was lost to injured reserve this week after missing the past few weeks. In total, they will be without their top three cornerbacks this week, after Damarious Randall and Quinten Rollins have been ruled out with injuries.
This may seem like a “blow up” spot for the Packers offense to some who haven’t been watching them closely enough over the past few weeks, but I don’t think that’s going to be the case. Mike McCarthy has slowed the offense down in a big way regarding tempo and Rodgers doesn’t look like himself.
The opposite is true for Chicago, which has played up in pace from last season. I expect the Bears to be fairly balanced early, but for Green Bay’s rush defense to stop much of their ground game. They will then resort to the air and attack the depleted Packers’ secondary.
That’s a spot where Hoyer and the Bears offense can succeed. We know Hoyer is far from an All-Pro, but he has played just as well as Cutler this season and has a host of talented skill players, including wide receiver Alshon Jeffery and tight end Zach Miller. Cam Meredith has also emerged as a breakout receiver in his rookie season.
I’m happy to take Chicago with a touchdown plus a hook against a still overrated Green Bay team. The under is also attractive in this game. Especially if you can beat the market at close.
Pick: Bears +7.5