Bears vs. Packers NFL Preview – Free Pick
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Posted on 10/5/2007 10:08:53 PM
Sunday Night Football NFL Betting – Chicago Bears (+3.5) vs. Green Bay Packers (-3.5)
Bet On This Game At our top Sportsbook – Not even the most clairvoyant prognosticator of NFL wagering could have glimpsed the radical early season shakeup in the NFC North. The Bears were far and away the favorite to repeat as division champs while the Packers remained a young team with a fading future Hall of Fame quarterback whose best days were behind him. Green Bay has surprised big time and sits atop the division with a 4-0 mark while owning the league’s longest winning streak at eight games dating back to last season. In stark juxtaposition, the Bears have endured an emergency quarterback switch (kudos to Lovie Smith for having the guts to pull the plug on Grossman) and suffered a horrible rash of injuries to their celebrated defense. The Week 5 line has the Packers favored by (-3 ½) at Lambeau Field against a wounded and desperate Chicago Bears team.
Quarterback Brett Favre is off to one of his best starts since his last MVP season and there’s no hiding the fact that the Packers are leaning heavily on the 38-year-old signal caller who leads the league’s 2nd ranked passing attack. Favre tops the league with 170 pass attempts and 112 completions but the most impressive stat is the fact he has avoided throwing an interception in his last 119 attempts.
The Packers will scheme to attack a depleted Chicago Bears secondary that was missing all four of its initial starters last week. Corner Charles Tillman may return but the Bears will likely have to rely on rookie Trumaine McBride, Ricky Manning Jr. and Danieal Manning to match up against the Packers dangerous receivers. Donald Driver and Greg Jennings are explosive after the catch and the Packers will use a variety of quick slants and crossing patterns to try to catch the Bears secondary flatfooted.
Rookie James Jones has emerged as another receiving threat with 18 receptions and a touchdown on the season. The Bears defense could also be missing linebacker Lance Briggs for the second straight week. The Packers offensive line, in particular tackles Mark Tauscher and Chad Clifton, will face a stiff challenge in blocking Bears’ defensive ends Mark Anderson and Adewale Ogunleye (last week both players had multiple sack games).
There’s a reason why the Packers are throwing the ball on 68 percent of their offensive downs – it’s because they are struggling badly to run the ball – where they rank dead last in the league averaging 54.3 yards a game and 2.7 yards a carry. Hard to say which Packer back will get stopped in his tracks this week, but even a dinged Tommy Harris will force Green Bay to run outside the tackles where linebacker Brian Urlacher will clean up the trash.
The Bears offense has been pitiful so far this season producing more turnovers than touchdowns – thirteen in 52 possessions if you’re counting. Brian Griese showed some positive signs last week throwing for 286 yards and a pair of touchdowns, but he also contributed three costly picks. Coach Lovie Smith’s plan is to get dangerous, return man Devin Hester and rookie tight end Greg Olsen more involved in an effort to spark the offense.
Adding to their offensive woes, the Bears have not been able to run the ball – something they could rely on last season. As a team they rank 27th in the league averaging 82.8 yards a game and 3.3 yards a carry. Cedric Benson is not establishing himself as the premier back they hoped and is having trouble holding on to the football.
The Packers defense is an active unit that has improved tremendously over the last couple years. Linebacker Nick Barnett is leading by example and safety Atari Bigby has helped solidify the secondary and in run support. The Packers defense will try to rattle Griese by blitzing from the secondary and with pressure from ends Aaron Kampman, Cullen Jenkins and Kabeer Gbaja Biamila.
The Bears have won four of the last six meetings between these teams, including three straight at Lambeau Field, but the Packers are a rejuvenated team so far this season. Green Bay is 4-0 ATS in their last four games after accumulating more than 250 yards passing – while Brett Favre is on pace to throw for 32 touchdowns and 4,820 yards.
NFL BETTING FREE PICK: GIVE THE BEARS THE -3.5
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