Week 12 NFL Betting: Bears take 5-game winning streak to Oakland without Cutler

Chicago Bears at Oakland Raiders
Sunday, 11/27/11, 4:05 PM EST, TV:  FOX
Opening Point Spread:  Oakland -3.5
Current Betting Line:  Oakland -4
Opening Total:  46
Current Total:  41
Odds Courtesy of Bookmaker

Raiders Vs Bears Game Preview
Lovie Smith, Brian Urlacher and the Bears must find a way to win without QB Jay Cutler if they are going to return to the playoffs.

The Chicago Bears will likely need to win half of their remaining six games in the regular season to make the playoffs for the second year in a row.  But the Bears (7-3) will probably have to play the rest of the season without starting quarterback Jay Cutler, beginning with Sunday’s road matchup with the Oakland Raiders (6-4).

Cutler underwent surgery on his fractured right thumb Wednesday that is expected to keep him out the next 6-8 weeks.  That means backup Caleb Hanie will make his first career start against the Raiders (-4, O/U 41) after attempting just 14 passes in three previous seasons combined.

Oakland opened as a Pick’em at some sportsbooks prior to the news breaking that Cutler would miss this week’s game, and the AFC West leaders hope to break a two-game home losing streak against Chicago.  The Raiders have won their past two games on the road, including a 27-21 victory at Minnesota last week.

Running back Michael Bush remains a force on the ground for Oakland in place of the injured Darren McFadden, totaling 461 yards and two touchdowns in the last four weeks.  Bush has carried the ball 30 times in each of the past two games and will face the NFL’s 10th-ranked run defense, as the Bears are giving up 101.2 rushing yards per game.

Raiders QB Carson Palmer has done a nice job settling into the starting role following a disastrous debut against Kansas City at home in Week 7.  Palmer threw three interceptions in that game and has tossed four in three games since then to go along with six touchdowns.  In his last meeting with Chicago, he threw five touchdown passes, including four in the first half of a 45-10 rout two years ago when he played for Cincinnati.

Bears RB Matt Forte will be counted on to help take some pressure off Hanie in Cutler’s absence, and he will be facing an Oakland run defense that is surrendering 131.6 yards per game on the ground.  The Raiders were fortunate last week that Vikings RB Adrian Peterson missed the entire second half with an ankle injury.  Forte ranks fourth in the league in rushing with 926 yards but has just 121 in the past two games combined.

Chicago is riding a five-game winning streak both straight-up and against the spread and has also won the last two meetings with Oakland.  The Bears have covered the spread in the past four meetings, and the OVER has cashed in their last three overall along with four of five.

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