NFL Picks Against The Spread: Chicago Bears at Arizona Cardinals

Chicago Bears at Arizona Cardinals
Sunday, December 23, 2012, 4:25 pm Eastern, TV: Fox, NFL Sunday Ticket
University of Phoenix Stadium – Glendale, Arizona
Opening Line: Chicago -5 1/2
Current Line: Chicago -5 1/2
Opening Total: 37 1/2
Current Total: 36 1/2
Opening Money Line: Bears -240 / Cardinals +200
Current Money Line: Bears -240 / Cardinals +200

Bears Seahawks NFC Playoff Preview
The 8-6 Chicago Bears are desperate for a win as they travel to the Arizona Cardinals Sunday. Chicago is a 5.5 point road favorite.

After a 7-1 start, the Chicago Bears have since gone 1-5 to drop to 8-6. The Bears are in serious jeopardy of missing the playoffs as they are tied with 4 other teams for the last two spots in the NFC playoffs. Chicago faced a similar situation last season as they started off 7-3 but went 1-5 down the stretch to miss the playoffs. The Bears face a must win situation at the 5-9 Arizona Cardinals Sunday.

Chicago is coached by Lovie Smith. The Bears lost at home last week to the Green Bay Packers 21-13. The Packers clinched the NFC North title with the win. Smith could be fired if the Bears suffer two late season collapses in a row. Chicago is 6-8 ATS and the total is 7-7 this season.

Arizona started off the season 4-0 under coach Ken Whisenhunt. However, the Cardinals then proceeded to lost 9 straight games. Arizona snapped that losing streak last week with a 38-10 romp over the terrible Detroit Lions last week at home. The Cardinals are 6-7-1 ATS and the total is 5-9 this season.

Chicago has won five of the last seven against Arizona but the Cardinals won the last meeting 41-21 in Chicago in 2009. The last time Chicago played in Arizona was in 2006 when the Bears were down 23-3 late in the third but came back to win 24-23. That led to then Arizona coach Dennis Green’s infamous “The Bears are who we thought they were” rant.

Chicago is averaging 305.4 yards per game on offense including 185.9 passing yards and 119.6 rushing yards. The Bears are #29 in total offense and #28 in passing. Chicago is outscoring teams 23-17 this season. The Bears are +14 in turnovers. Chicago has forced 36 sacks and allowed 41 this season. The Bears are 78/204 on third and fourth down conversions. On defense, Chicago is allowing 319.6 yards per game including 210.6 passing yards and 109 rushing yards. The Bears are #12 in rush defense, but in the top 6 in the other defensive categories. Chicago has 8 special teams / defensive touchdowns this season including 7 pick sixes.

Chicago quarterback Jay Cutler has completed 59.7% of his passes for 2,630 yards with 17 touchdowns and 14 interceptions, along with 33 carries for 196 yards. He has been sacked 35 times this season. Cutler is probable with a neck injury. If Cutler can’t go it will be back-up Jason Campbell who will get the start. Campbell has completed¬† 62.7% of his passes for 265 yards with 2 touchdowns and 2 interceptions.

Running back Matt Forte has 212 carries, 903 yards and 3 touchdowns, along with 41 catches, 312 yards and a touchdown. Back-up Michael Bush is out for the season with a rib injury. He had 411 rushing yards and 3 touchdowns, along with 9 catches. Armando Allen and Kahlil Bell will also get a few carries.

Receiver Brandon Marshall has 107 carries, 1,398 yards with 10 touchdowns. He is probable with a hamstring injury. Alshon Jeffery has 19 catches, 256 yards and 3 touchdowns. Earl Bennett has 23 catches, 250 yards and a touchdown. He is probable with a concussion. Devin Hester has 23 catches, 242 yards and a touchdown. He also returns kicks and punts for the Bears. Kellen Davis has 17 catches, 210 yards and 2 touchdowns. Kicker Robbie Gould is out for the season with a calf injury. The Bears signed veteran Olindo Mare to replace Gould. Nine defensive players are listed on the injury report.

The Cardinals are averaging 264.4 yards per game on offense, including 184.2 passing yards and 80.2 rushing yards. Arizona is being outscored 22-16 this season. The Cardinals are 29th or worse in all offensive categories, including last in total offense and against the rush. The Cardinals are +3 in turnovers. Arizona has forced 36 sacks and has allowed 52 this season. The Cardinals are 60/224 on third and fourth down conversions. On defense, Arizona is allowing 335.8 yards per game, including 199.3 passing yards and 136.5 rushing yards. The Cardinals are #4 in pass defense, and #28 in rush defense. Arizona is #11 in total defense. The Cardinals have three defensive touchdowns and have allowed 7 on special teams and defense.

The Cardinals have used 3 quarterbacks this season, but none have really been effective. Kevin Kolb has completed 59.6% of his passes for 1,169 yards with 9 touchdowns and 3 interceptions, along with 16 carries, 100 yards and a touchdown. He has been sacked 27 times this season. He is out for the season with broken ribs. John Skelton has completed 54.2% of his passes for 1,132 yards with 2 touchdowns and 9 interceptions. He has been sacked 15 times this season. Rookie Ryan Lindley has completed 51.1% of his passes for 611 yards, with no touchdowns and 6 interceptions. He has been sacked 10 times this season. Lindley will start the Bears’ game.

Running back LaRod Stephens-Howling  has 99 carries, 338 yards and 4 touchdowns, along with 16 catches for 109 yards. Beanie Wells has 84 carries, 231 yards and 5 touchdowns. William Powell will also get some carries. Ryan Williams is out for the season with a shoulder injury.

Receiver Larry Fitzgerald has 61 catches, 674 yards and 4 touchdowns. Andre Roberts has 56 catches, 697 yards and 5 touchdowns. Tight end Rob Housler has 45 catches and 417 yards. He is questionable with a knee injury. Michael Floyd had 31 catches, 349 yards and a touchdown. Early Doucet has 28 catches, but he is out with a concussion.  Nineteen Cardinals are listed on the injury report including 9 defensive players and 5 offensive linemen.

Chicago is 4-1 ATS after gaining less than 250 yards, 10-4-1 in road games against teams with losing home records, 2-5 after scoring less than 15 points, 1-4 on grass, 1-5 overall, 1-6 against NFC teams, 0-6 after allowing 350 yards or more, and 0-5 in December.

Arizona is 6-2 ATS after gaining less than 250 yards, 5-2 after passing for less than 150 yards, 3-7-1 overall, 2-5-1 against NFC teams, 3-9 after allowing 90 rushing yards or less, 1-3-1 against teams with losing records, 2-6 after allowing less than 15 points, 1-4 at home and 1-5 on grass. The Cardinals have covered 4 of the last 5 against the Bears.

I know Arizona snapped a 9 game winning streak last week against the Lions. However, they still had less than 200 yards, and were helped by 4 Detroit turnovers that led to 28 Arizona points, including two pick sixes. I don’t see a lot of scoring between the Cardinals and Bears as both defenses are among the best in the league and the offenses struggle to put it mildly. I think the Bears win as they wear down the Cardinal defense with Matt Forte running the ball.

Get this week’s NFL picks now. We are red hot as the playoffs approach.

 

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