New Orleans Saints at Chicago Bears
Soldier Field – Chicago, Illinois
Monday, December 15, 2014, 8:30 pm Eastern, TV: ESPN
Opening Line: New Orleans -3
Current Line: New Orleans -3 (-120)
Opening Total: 54
Current Total: 54
Opening Money Line: Saints -160 / Bears +135
Current Money Line: Saints -170 / Bears +145
Usually when two 5-8 teams meet in a Mid-December NFL contest there is very little at stake. While that is true for the Chicago Bears, the New Orleans Saints can take over sole possession of first place in the NFC South with a win Monday night. The teams meet in Chicago. The Bears are in last place in the NFC North and have been eliminated from playoff contention. The Saints are a half game behind the 5-8-1 Carolina Panthers. New Orleans will control their own destiny for the division title with a win Monday, but a loss would send them into a tie for second with the Atlanta Falcons.
Since 2002, the series is tied 4-4 between the Saints and Bears. New Orleans has won two straight games against Chicago including 26-18 last season in Chicago.
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New Orleans is coached by Sean Payton. The Saints have home wins over the Minnesota Vikings 20-9, Tampa Bay Buccaneers 37-31 in overtime, and Green Bay Packers 44-23, along with road wins at the Carolina Panthers 28-10 and Pittsburgh Steelers 35-32. New Orleans has lost 4 of their last 5 games. Most alarmingly, all four losses came at home in the Superdome where the Saints had been almost invincible before this season. New Orleans has road losses at the Falcons 37-34 in overtime, Cleveland Browns 26-24, Dallas Cowboys 38-17, and Detroit Lions 24-23. The Saints have home losses to the San Francisco 49ers 27-24 in overtime, Cincinnati Bengals 27-10, Baltimore Ravens 34-27 and last week against the Panthers 41-10. New Orleans is 5-8 ATS and the total is 10-3 this season. The Saints were 8.5 point favorites against the Panthers last week and the total was 50.5.
Chicago is coached by Marc Trestman. The Bears have road wins at the 49ers 28-20, New York Jets 27-19, and Atlanta Falcons 27-13, along with home wins over the Minnesota Vikings 21-13 and Tampa Bay Buccaneers 21-13. Chicago has home losses to the Buffalo Bills 23-20 in overtime, Green Bay Packers 38-17, Miami Dolphins 27-14 and Cowboys last week 41-28, along with road losses at the Carolina Panthers 31-24, New England Patriots 51-23, Packers 55-14, and Lions 34-17. Chicago has lost 5 of their last 7 games including 2 straight. The Bears are 5-8 ATS and the total is 8-5 this season. Chicago was a 4 point underdog against Dallas and the total was 50.5.
New Orleans is being outscored 28-26 this season. The Saints are #3 in scoring and #30 in points allowed. New Orleans is averaging 421 yards per game including 297 passing yards and 124 rushing yards. The Saints are #3 in total and passing offense and #8 in rushing. On defense, the Saints are allowing 399 total yards including 265 passing yards and 134 rushing yards. The Saints are #29 or worse in all three categories. New Orleans is 86/176 on third and fourth down conversions and opponents are 85/177. New Orleans has 24 sacks and has allowed 21 this season. The Saints are -9 in turnovers. New Orleans has allowed 3 defensive touchdowns.
New Orleans quarterback Drew Brees has completed 69.3% of his passes for 3,983 yards with 28 touchdowns and 12 interceptions, along with 60 rushing yards and a touchdown. Running back Mark Ingram has 182 carries for 810 yards and 6 touchdowns, along with 24 catches for 124 yards. Khiry Robinson has 64 carries for 330 yards and 2 touchdowns, along with 3 catches. He returned last week after missing several games with an arm injury. Pierre Thomas has 43 carries for 211 yards and 2 touchdowns, plus 38 catches for 271 yards and a touchdown. Fullback Austin Johnson is out for the season with a knee injury.
Receiver Kenny Stills has 47 catches for 714 yards and 3 touchdowns. Tight end Jimmy Graham has 68 catches for 695 yards with 9 touchdowns. Receiver Marques Colston has 46 catches for 706 yards and 3 touchdowns. Brandin Cooks has 55 catches for 550 yards and 3 touchdowns, plus 7 carries for 73 yards and a rushing touchdown. He is out for the season with a thumb injury. Travaris Cadet has 36 catches for 287 yards and a touchdown. Josh Hill has only 12 catches but 3 touchdowns. Nine defensive players are on the injury report for the Saints.
Chicago is being outscored 29-22 this season. The Bears are #18 in scoring and last in points allowed. Chicago is averaging 343 yards per game on offense including 254 passing and 89 rushing yards per game. The Bears are #17 in total offense and #26 in rushing, but #10 in passing. On defense, Chicago is allowing 378 yards per game including 266 passing and 112 rushing yards. The Bears are #29 in total defense and #31 in pass defense. Chicago is 77/185 on third and fourth down conversions and opponents are 78/178. The Bears have forced 36 sacks and allowed 42 this season. Chicago is -6 in turnovers. The Bears have 2 defensive/special teams scores and have allowed 3 this season.
Quarterback Jay Cutler has been much maligned this season by Chicago media and fans. Cutler has completed 66.8% of his passes for 3,446 yards with 26 touchdowns and 15 interceptions, and has also rushed for 132 yards on 35 carries with 2 touchdowns.
Running back Matt Forte has 214 carries for 854 yards and 6 touchdowns along with 86 catches for 724 yards and 3 touchdowns. Ka’Deem Carey will also get some carries and catches. Receiver Alshon Jeffrey has 73 catches for 949 yards and 8 touchdowns, along with 33 rushing yards. Tight end Martellus Bennett has 77 catches for 821 yards and 6 touchdowns. Brandon Marshall has 61 catches for 728 yards and 8 touchdowns. He suffered broken ribs and a collapsed lung last week against the Cowboys and is out for the season. Kicker Robbie Gould is questionable with a groin injury. The Bears signed veteran kicker Jay Feely last week to replace Gould. Eight defensive players are questionable or out for Chicago.
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New Orleans is 5-2 ATS in Monday games, 7-3 after allowing more than 150 rushing yards, 2-5 against teams with losing records and in December, 1-4 overall, and 1-5 against teams with losing home records. The Saints are 5-2-2 ATS in the last 9 games against the Bears. The over is 5-1 in this series in games played in Chicago recently.
Chicago is 8-3 ATS in Monday games, 12-5-1 in week 15, 6-14 after allowing more than 150 rushing yards, 5-12 after failing to cover, 2-5 overall, 7-18-1 in December, 3-8 on grass, 8-22 against NFC teams, 5-15-1 at home, 2-7 after allowing 30 points or more, 3-11 after accumulating 350 total yards or more, 3-12-1 after allowing 350 yards or more and 1-7 after a double digit home loss. The home team is 4-1-2 ATS in this series recently.
This should be a high scoring affair with two of the worst defenses in the NFL. While New Orleans is far from a good team, Chicago is a mess with lots of in fighting and distractions. I think the Saints win on the road but I have no idea which team will show up for either side.