Packers Bears Odds

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The Packers played host to Chicago the first time these teams met this season, but they ended up losing the game by a touchdown.  However, the Packers have won two of their last three games coming into this matchup, and they they will be playing with plenty of motivation.  First of all, this is a revenge game for the Packers, but this is also the deciding game for the NFC North division.  The winner gets into the playoffs, while the loser is done for the season.

The Bears are also coming into this game have won two of their last three, but they are coming off an embarrassing loss last week against the Eagles that could have done major damage to their confidence.  They were on the road in that game, but this week they will have the backing of the home crowd in what is the biggest game of the season thus far.

Kick-off takes place this Sunday at 4:25 PM ET with regional television coverage provided by FOX.  Early indications point to Aaron Rodgers missing the game again this week, and that has the Packers coming into this game as a 4.5-point underdog.  If Rodgers is able to start I expect to see a dramatic swing in this line.

Why Green Bay Covers

Even with Aaron Rodgers out, there has been no shortage of scoring from Green Bay.  The Packers are averaging 25.9 points per game on the road this season, and they have scored over 30 points in two of their last three games.  Matt Flynn has been efficient for a player that was unexpectedly thrown into the starting role.  He has completed over 61 percent of his pass attempts and averages over 200 yards passing per game.  Flynn has seven touchdowns and four interceptions in his limited number of starts.  One big issue for Flynn has been a lack of protection from the offensive line.  He has been sacked 17 times, but against the Bears weak defense I don’t expect to see him going down as often as he has in past weeks.

This matchup fits a system to play on road teams like Green Bay after being beaten by the spread by 49 points or more in their last seven games combined when playing a conference opponent.  This system is 66-34 (66%) against the spread over the last 10 seasons.

The Packers defense has been pretty awful at times, but they are still playing much better than the Bears.  Green Bay comes into this game surrendering 26.7 points per game, while Chicago has allowed an average of 29.7 points per game.  The Bears run defense has been absolutely horrible, allowing 162 rushing yards per game and 5.4 yards per carry.  Eddie Lacy has to be looking forward to facing such a soft defensive unit this week.  Lacy has over 1,100 yards rushing this year.  He has 10 touchdowns for the Packers and is averaging 4.2 yards per carry.

Why Chicago Covers

There is no denying the fact that Chicago’s defense has been pretty soft, but they have made up for it with outstanding play from the offense.  The Bears are averaging 27.8 points per game and Jay Cutler should finally have the rust shaken off after making his return from time missed due to injury.  The Bears have several superstar caliber players on the roster, and I think they have too many options for Green Bay to slow down.  Alshon Jeffery has more receiving yards than Brandon Marshall, and the combination of Jeffery and Marshall gives Chicago a big advantage against a soft Packers secondary.

You should play against road teams like Green Bay after scoring 30 points or more in their last game when they are playing against an opponent that scored three points or less in the first half of their last game.  This system is 88-45 (66%) against the spread.

The last time these teams met Chicago picked up a touchdown win over the Packers in Green Bay.  They picked up that win with Josh McCown in the lineup, and with Cutler back there is a lot of potential for a blowout win.  Cutler has struggled since making his return from injury, but that is typical of a player that missed several weeks.   Cutler is up against a Packers defense that has given up an average of 31.3 points per game on the road this season.  The biggest weakness for Green Bay is a secondary unit allowing a 65.4 percent completion rate and 282 passing yards per game.  Matt Forte was a big difference maker in the first meeting between these teams, and if Cutler shows signs of struggle I expect Forte to step in and carry the bulk of the load.  In their first meeting Forte had 24 carries for 125 rushing yards and a touchdown.  He also had five receptions for an additional 54 yards.

My Pick

With or without Rodgers, I think the Packers are the play in this game.  The Bears are not a good team defensively, and even a back-up quarterback from Green Bay should be able to look like a Pro Bowl caliber player against them.  I like the Packers to win this game by a field goal with Flynn under center.  Even if Green Bay does end up getting Aaron Rodgers back, I think the Packers still win a close game.  A rusty Aaron Rodgers is no better than Flynn (certainly no worse either) so the outcome should be the same.

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