NFL Week 14 – New England Patriots vs Chicago Bears Preview
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Pats at Bears Matchup
Go Inside This Matchup With Our NFL ATS Stats —>
Date/Time: Sunday, Dec. 12 – 4:15 p.m.
Venue: Soldier Field, Chicago
Patriots vs. Bears lines
MoneyLine: Patriots -170/Bears +150
Spread: Patriots -3
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New England Patriots vs. Chicago Bears Preview
Strong-armed quarterback plus speedy receivers plus pass-happy offensive coordinators equals wide-open offense. Not quite in Chicago, where offensive coordinator Mike Martz has surprised just about everyone by using a balanced attack that has led to five consecutive wins and moved the Bears to the top of the NFC North division.
Martz, whose track record emphasizes stretching the field at all costs, gave that a go in the early part of the season before being convinced by O-line coach Mike Tice that Jay Cutler’s health was in serious danger with long 7-step drops. Receivers might be getting open, but with Cutler flat on his back it didn’t much matter. So in the team’s bye week the Bears shuffled the offensive deck, shortened routes and rededicated itself to the running game. Wins over Buffalo, Minnesota, Miami, Philadelphia and Detroit followed.
The new-look offense, which New England will have to deal with on Sunday, features a revitalized Matt Forte. Forte’s numbers had been trending down after his breakout 2008 season, but now he’s averaging 4.2 yards a carry and – perhaps more impressively – averages more than 10 yards every time he catches a pass.
Add that to a defense that is ranked 2nd in the league against the run and 3rd overall, and the Patriots figure to have their hands full on Sunday. Then again, New England had no trouble at Pittsburgh a few weeks ago, and the Pats’ offensive blitzkrieg against last Monday sent several Jets defenders to therapists.
Big plays in this game might be few and far between. With the Bears toning down their offense and New England’s defense content to give up small gains, Chicago doesn’t figure to go deep too often. And Tom Brady has made a career out of short- and intermediate-range passes. Throw in cold and wind in Chicago plus a chew-up field that has Jay Cutler complaining, and it looks like a grinder.
Over is 12-2 in NE last 14 games overall.
NE are 6-2-1 ATS in their last 9 games overall.
NE are 6-2 ATS in their last 8 games in December.
CHI are 3-11 ATS in their last 14 games in Week 14.
Under is 11-3 in CHI last 14 games on grass.
Under is 14-6 in CHI last 20 games overall.
THE PICK: Bill Belichick’s ideal team is one that plays its best ball in December. Well, it’s a few weeks before Christmas and we all saw the carnage last Monday night.
Since that surprising defeat at Cleveland in Week 9, New England has averaged 40 points a game and Brady (27 touchdowns, four interceptions) has become the favorite to win the MVP award.
With the Jets still only a game back in the AFC East, NE is focused and should win. Liking the under (41) here.
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Lawrence Paul is a regular contributor to the Cappers Picks Blog, and is a free-lance gambling and travel writer from Massachusetts.