A battle of NFC playoff contenders is scheduled for the late afternoon slate in Week 8, as the New Orleans Saints will travel to the Windy City to take on the Chicago Bears. Both teams currently sit just off the pace in their divisions with records of 4-3 and 5-2, respectively. A win on Sunday could prove vital down the road for both teams in terms of the postseason head-to-head tiebreaker.
- Opening Lines: Saints -2.5; O/U 46
- Current ATS Line: Saints -4.5
- Current Over/Under: 43.5
- Location: Soldier Field – Chicago, IL
- Start Time: 4:25 p.m. EST
- Television: FOX
- Last Meeting: October 20, 2019 – The Saints defeated the Bears 36-25 in Chicago.
- Attendance: No fans will be allowed to attend.
- Last Meeting: October 30, 2016– Las Vegas 30, Tampa Bay 24
The Saints are coming off a thrilling victory over the Carolina Panthers last week. If Joey Slye’s 65-yard field goal attempt had had maybe a yard or two more distance on it, New Orleans could’ve very well found themselves in an overtime affair. As it is, the Saints are 4-3 and are riding a three-game winning streak into their game against the Bears this week. With the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in a very winnable matchup against the New York Giants, a Saints win is paramount to stay a game back in the NFC South race.
Just when it seemed like New Orleans would be getting star wide receiver Michael Thomas back on the field for the first time since Week 1, reports from practice this week suggest that he is a longshot to play as he battles a hamstring injury. That’s a significant blow when you’re facing an elite pass defense like the Bears. Drew Brees will likely be under duress throughout, which will make short passes and screens to Alvin Kamara an even greater part of the offensive game plan. The Saints have been great ATS when playing on the road on Sundays in the recent past, with a mark of 14-1, and the upward line movement (from 2.5 to 4.5) bears that out.
The Bears’ offense must play better than they did against the Los Angeles Rams. With this in mind, Nick Foles and the Chicago offense should be able to do a bit more damage against a vulnerable Saints defense. The Saints allowed a season-fewest 24 points to Carolina last week, but that’s still a pretty high number. Meanwhile, Matt Nagy’s offense has only scored more than 24 points twice this season. Something has to give on Sunday.
What I don’t anticipate giving way is the Bears’ defense. Ranked sixth overall in adjusted efficiency by Football Outsiders (third against the pass, 10th against the run), Chicago has not given up more than 26 points in any one game this season. They have held four of their previous seven opponents below the 20-point threshold. The pass rush, led by Khalil Mack, has been largely responsible for the unit’s success. If Thomas can’t play for New Orleans, Chicago can key in on Kamara and potentially leave the Saints scrambling for answers.
- Saints 2020 Betting Trends: 2-4 ATS; 6-0 to the Over
- Bears 2020 Betting Trends: 4-3 ATS; 2-5 to the Over
- The Saints are 5-0 both straight up and ATS in their last five head-to-head meetings against the Bears.
- The Under has hit in four of the last five head-to-head meetings between the Saints and Bears.
- The Under has gone 12-3 in the Bears last 15 home games with Matt Nagy as head coach.
First-Half Total Field Goals-Away Team (Saints): Over 1 (+126 at FanDuel Sportsbook)
This first-half field goals prop for the Saints is interesting since the line is set at an even 1. It’s difficult to score against the Bears’ defense, but it’s not inconceivable for the Saints to move the ball enough to attempt multiple field goals in the first half. Perhaps a pair of long drives that may result in touchdowns against weaker defenses fizzle out and result in field goal tries.
The worst I could see an over bet on this prop landing is at one, and that’ll result in a push. New Orleans is far more likely to kick two first-half field goals than none, in my opinion, and it certainly helps that Will Lutz is one of the best kickers in the NFL. He has been perfect on field goals this season to date. With plus-money odds, this is a prop bet worth making.
Both the point spread and total for this game have seen betting action throughout the week. While the Saints have attracted the betting market’s favor in terms of the side as previously mentioned, the total has taken money on the under. The opening line of 46 has come down to 43.5, with the strong Chicago defense undoubtedly the main factor behind the move.
Chilly temperatures and winds between 15 and 20 MPH are expected in Chicago during this game. Typical Windy City November weather, to say the least. I just don’t see the Saints putting up as many points in this game as they have scored before. I certainly am not rushing to back the Bears offense to score much either, regardless of the defense standing in their way. A score of 20-17, or something like it, is about as high as I envision this game going.
I also expect the Bears to certainly be competitive following a disappointing loss this past week. With the home team catching points in what I handicap to be a low-scoring game, buying back on the underdog is also an option.
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