Bears (+6) at Packers (51).
All the money seems to be going Chicago’s way, and I’ll admit the argument is convincing. A tough divisional matchup usually means a 6-point spread is too high. The Packers really got blown out in just about every phase of the game except special teams, unable to stop the Niners in the war on the trenches, unable to assert any kind of running game as they played from way behind, and losing Greg Jennings to a groin tweak. (Jennings is likely to miss Thursday’s game.) Meanwhile, after a horrid Cutler pick, the Bears made the Colts look silly in every phase of their matchup, shitting on Andrew Luck’s debut, showing dazzle with the Cutler-Marshall connection, and asserting a steady dose of the run. Bears to cover is a lock, right?
Not so fast, my friends.
I think the Packers are much better than what they showed in the opener, which was a fiasco. They’re going to be playing with a chip on their shoulder, knowing they can’t drop two at home to fall two behind the Bears. The Bears are feeling confident after their big win, but come on – it was against the Colts, not the Niners. Even with Jennings limited, the Packers put up 269 yards passing, spreading the ball to James Jones, Randall Cobb, Jordy Nelson, and Jermichael Finley. Cedric Benson will get more than 9 carries unless for some reason the Pack falls way behind again early on.
The Bears had 28 carries between Matt Forte and Michael Bush, and those two will pace the game for the Bears. Brandon Marshall accounted for 36% of the passing offense, and the Pack will obviously key him. Past Marshall, the Bears have rookie Alshon Jeffery, Earl Bennett, and Forte in the mix. The Bears had early struggles (Cutler 1-10 passing) but turned it on late, and face a Packers team that was sloppy tackling and was likewise taken out early. Logically, this looks like a 27-23 kind of game, but Chicago goes on the road with a jump up in level of competition and they can’t afford a sloppy first half.
Like for this to be about who wants it more. I say that’s the Packers, and Rodgers in particular. He has a knack for following up duds with big games, and the Pack’s ATS record tells me this one starts close and ends up an unlikely cover, although Bears to cover again seems more logical. Packers 31, Bears 24.