Your Monday Nighter Features Bears at the Jets

Jay Cutler leads the Bears into New York to face the Jets.

Chicago (+3) at NY Jets (O/U 45.5) – The last time the Jets and Bears played was the day after Christmas in 2010 in Chicago. The Bears jumped to a 10-0 lead before trailing 24-17 at half. Jay Cutler would throw three third quarter touchdowns to lead Chicago to the win. While Cutler is still around in the windy city, the Jets’ quarterback that day was Mark Sanchez and we know how that worked out.

Now the Jets play host to the Bears in a week three match-up that’s of vital importance to both teams. Heading into the weekend, the entire NFC North was 1-1 but now the Bears will need a victory to keep pace with the Lions who defeated Green Bay yesterday. Minnesota lost in New Orleans.

Eric Decker has a bad hamstring and that isn't good for the Jets.

For the Jets, they sit at 1-1 and now are behind the Pats and Bills who both 2-1.

The Bears enter with both of their top wideouts still banged up despite playing last week in San Francisco. They’ve also lost cornerback Charles Tillman for the season and will be without center Roberto Garza and guard Matt Slauson. Linebacker Shea McClellin and defensive lineman Jay Ratliff are also out.

New York doesn’t have nearly the issues the Bears do. Cornerback Dee Milliner is doubtful with an ankle and wide receiver Eric Decker is questionable with a hamstring.

Offensively the Jets rank 13th overall and first in rushing while the Bears rank 26th overall and ninth in passing. The glaring stat for each is the New York ranks 30th in passing while Chicago ranks 30th in rushing. In other words, this will be a battle of who can keep doing what they do best and who can do just a little better at what they do worst.

On defense, the Jets rank second in the league overall while the Bears are 21st. Both teams are obviously struggling in the secondary but the edge up front clearly goes to Gang Green. Can the Bears get enough out of Matt Forte to slow the pass rush of the Jets? Even if so, can they protect Cutler?

The Jets will look to establish the ground game early and often in effort to get the play-action game with Geno Smith going. If the Bears can make the Jets one-dimensional then that will go a long way towards their chances of winning .

Both teams will need to put last week deep in the past. The Bears made a fantastic comeback last week in defeating San Francisco on the road. As great as that win was, they have to move forward and focus on the task at hand. New York went into Green Bay and saw the Packers come back from a double-digit deficit on them only to seemingly tie the game but a timeout called by an assistant coach nixed that.

Like the Bears, they have to put the game behind them and focus on the present.

Trends: The Bears are 6-16-1 against the spread in their last 23 games… New York is 1-4-1 ATS in their last six games against the Bears… The total has gone OVER in nine of Chicago’s last 11 games on the road… The total has gone UNDER in seven of the last eight games in which they’ve played the Bears.

The Pick: Everything in my head points to a Jets’ victory considering the injuries to the Bears but I have a feeling that win last week will propel Chicago forward. Take them getting the points and take the OVER as well.

Odds to Win the NFC North for 2014

If Aaron Rodgers stays healthy then look out for the Packers in 2014.

On Thursday, I kicked off the annual ‘NFL Division Odds’ series by starting with the NFC East. Today we move over to the NFC North where defense used to be the norm. Not anymore because at least three of the four teams will ride powerful offenses and hope their defenses can do enough to limit the opposition.

On we go…

Green Bay -125 – Here’s the deal with the Packers; if Aaron Rodgers plays all 16 games this team wins the division. It’s really that simple because defenses, especially those in this division, are not going to stop the firepower of Jordy Nelson, Randall Cobb, Eddie Lacy etc. Where the Packers could fall though is if Clay Matthews continues to spend more time in sweats and not on the field.

Green Bay has five road games in their first eight and among those road trips are the opener at Seattle, plus at Detroit, at Chicago, at Miami and at New Orleans. This may sound crazy but if they come through that stretch 4-4 or better I think that’s pretty darn good.

Season Projection: 11-5

Cutler has to prove he is worth his huge new deal.

Chicago +275 – Quarterback Jay Cutler has a monster new contract and now has to go out and prove that he’s worth all of that money. First and foremost he has to stay healthy. All of the offensive weapons are there in the name of Alshon Jeffery, Brandon Marshall and Matt Forte. If Cutler can’t stay on the field then those weapons lose their potency.

With Julius Peppers off to Green Bay, the Bears brought in Jared Allen to keep pressure on opposing quarterbacks. That will be extremely necessary with Matthew Stafford and Aaron Rodgers on the schedule four times. The Bears have five home games in their final seven which means if they can survive earlier road games at San Francisco, Carolina and New England then they could be in great shape.

Season Projection: 10-6

Detroit +400 – I watched the Lions last night in Oakland and the offense looked great in the first quarter and the defense looked pretty good too. The problem? The Lions killed themselves, especially defensively, with penalties that kept drives alive for the Raiders. This was one of the reasons Jim Schwartz was sent packing and Jim Caldwell was brought in. The talent is there on both sides of the ball so the excuses are limited.

If the Lions are going to make the playoffs, then they need to get out early. Seven of the final eight games on the schedule are tough. Back to back trips to Arizona and New England in the beginning of that stretch and back to back road trips to Chicago and Green Bay at the end of it. I have concerns with those stretches of games.

Season Projection: 8-8

Minnesota +1000 – There are already rumors that the Vikings are leaning towards Teddy Bridgewater and that they are perhaps ready to shop Christian Ponder as well. I’m guessing Matt Cassel will start the season but he could give way to Bridgewater at some point. Regardless of who is quarterbacking. Adrian Peterson and Cordarrelle Patterson are the two guys that need the ball in their hands.

The defense will be OK but I don’t think it will be formidable enough to deal with the high-powered offenses of the division. The Vikings 2014 season will be told in the first five games. They have road trips to St. Louis, New Orleans and Green Bay and two home games against New England and Atlanta.

Season Projection: 6-10

Overall: This division comes down to one question in my mind; who is on the field more in 2014, Aaron Rodgers or Jay Cutler? Whomever is, leads his team to the title.

Analyzing NFL Team Win-Totals for the NFC

Tony Romo
Tony Romo
The Cowboys need an improved running game and more consistency from Tony Romo in 2013.

Two days ago I broke down the over/under win totals for each team in the American Football Conference and today my attention shifts to the National Football Conference. In the 47-year history of the Super Bowl, the NFC holds a 25-22 advantage in the win column and has won four of the last six including two by the New York Giants.

Will an NFC team help them continue their dominance? Let’s see who might have a chance at getting there at the very least.


Dallas 8.5 (-105 over/-125 under) The Cowboys draw the NFC North and AFC West in divisional crossovers. That looks positive but I’m not so sure. Dallas was 31st in the league in rushing last year and the defense needs to improve significantly. This is the toughest call of the NFC because of Tony Romo’s ups and downs. I’ll go the over but just barely at nine.

New York 9 (-115 over/-115 under) The Giants will move forward without Ahmad Bradshaw who is in Indy now but the defense is where the focus is. They ranked 28th against the pass and 25th against the run. This is a situation where they will go as far as Eli Manning can take them. I say it’s a step back. Take the under.

Philadelphia 7.5 (-105 over/-125 under) Chip Kelly brings his up-tempo offense to the NFL and I can see it catching teams off guard early in the season but I have concerns about it long-term. The other concern is Michael Vick’s health. This offense will be great for him but he’s going to get hit a lot too. I like the under.

Washington 8.5 (+105 over/-135 under) The offense built around Robert Griffin III is effective as long as he is healthy, but don’t forget Kirk Cousins is a talented back-up. If Alfred Morris picks up where he left off and the pass defense improves, I like the over in D.C.


I expect more efficient play from Jay Cutler under new coach Marc Trestman.

Chicago 8.5 (-120 over/-110 under) The Bears enter the Marc Trestman Era which should help Jay Cutler be more efficient and take less hits. The defense will miss Brian Urlacher’s leadership but I still think it’s good. The problem is the schedule. Besides the North, they have the NFC East and AFC North in crossovers. I can’t see them getting the over.

Detroit 8 (-105 over/-125 under) The Lions lost a ton of close games last year and this is clearly the make or break year for Jim Schwartz. Reggie Bush will help the running game and four of the last six games are at home. I like the push here though as I see them winning eight.

Green Bay 10.5 (-115 over/-115 under) The Packers should benefit from the addition of Eddy Lacy to the running game. They will also like the fact they have no back-to-back road games this season. The defense will be tested after their poor showing against San Francisco in the playoffs but I like the Pack to get to the over here anyway.

Minnesota 7.5 (-105 over/-125 under) Adrian Peterson is not going to rush for 2,000 yards again so the pressure falls to Christian Ponder to make throws. Greg Jennings was a nice signing but how healthy is he? I see a step back for the Vikes this season. Take the under.


Atlanta 10 (Even over/-110 over) The Falcons Super Bowl hopes died at the doorstep of the end zone last year. Can they rebound behind Matt Ryan and the addition of Steven Jackson? I say, “yes.” Take the over.

Carolina 7 (-135 over/+105 under) The Panthers get the AFC East and the NFC West in crossovers and have to deal with Atlanta and New Orleans twice each. I expect Cam Newton to be better but still like the under against that schedule.

New Orleans 9 (-145 over/+115 under) This is the Sean Payton-Revenge Tour that will go only as far as the defense can take it as they ranked near the bottom in 2012. I like the over here with improvement on defense.

Tampa Bay 7.5 (-130 over/Even under) This is the defining moment for QB Josh Freeman who in four seasons hasn’t gotten the Bucs to the playoffs. Four of the last six on the road is a concern, but I like the balance on offense and better pass defense. Take the over.


Arizona 5.5 (Even over/-130 under) New coach Bruce Arians will work well with Carson Palmer and that means more receptions for Larry Fitzgerald. They also get the NFC South and AFC South which will pose challenges, but I love the over here.

San Francisco 11 (-120 over/-110 under) The Niners will log a ton of miles this year with trips to Washington, Tampa Bay, Jacksonville and New Orleans. I love their draft but history is not kind to Super Bowl losers in follow-up seasons. Take the under.

Seattle 10.5 (-135 over/+105 under) The Seahawks are already everyone’s darlings heading into the season despite long trips to NYG, Carolina and Atlanta where their season ended last year. I fear the lack of maturity in this club will be their downfall. Playoffs? Yes. Over? No.

St. Louis 7.5 (-130 over/Even under) The Rams final five games are all against NFC heavyweights. I really like Jeff Fisher but I’m concerned about the lack of running game even though I think this offense goes pass-heavy anyway. Take the over, but just barely.


Week 13 NFL Betting Tips

Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos can wrap-up the AFC West with a win over Tampa Bay on Sunday.

With just five weeks to play in the regular season, we’ve reached that point where almost every game is a big game (it’s hard to imagine any Chiefs game being considered ‘big’). The race for division titles and wild card spots heats up this week (and every week here after) and we’ve rooted around and picked out three of the most intriguing contests on the slate.


Seattle Seahawks @ Chicago Bears

Seattle (6-5, 1-5 road) heads to Soldier Field this weekend looking to do something it has only achieved once this season; win on the road. The Seahawks have lost three straight away from CenturyLink Field since beating Carolina at the beginning of October. Another loss could eliminate Seattle from the race for the NFC West.

Chicago (8-3, 5-1 home) meanwhile is looking to extend its lead at the top of the NFC North. The return of Jay Cutler – following a concussion – last week heralded a first win in three games, and established a one-game lead over Green Bay.

The matchup sees the No. 2 (Chicago) and No. 3 (Seattle) ranked defenses – in terms of points per game – take to the field so expect this to be a dogfight.

Odds: Chicago is favored (-3) at home with the over/under at 38.

Take: Chicago – Not only is Seattle poor on the road but Chicago has only struggled against teams that can put points on the board (Green Bay, Houston, San Francisco), something the Seahawks struggle at. In the head-to-head series, no team has won two in a row since 2007, and with the Seahawks winning last time out, the Bears will look to maintain that trend. Take the Bears to cover the spread but take the under with these two defensive-minded teams.


Pittsburgh Steelers @ Baltimore Ravens

Bookmakers kept schtum on this one until news that Ben Roethlisberger was definitely out. He is and as such the Ravens are favorites in this one.

Pittsburgh (6-5, 2-4 road) will hope that backup Charlie Batch has a better outing than last week in Cleveland. In fact, the entire side will need to improve on an eight turnover performance.

Baltimore (9-2, 5-0 home) will defend its unbeaten record at home and look to all but secure the AFC North championship with a win. Whilst the offense has looked patchy over the past few weeks, the defense has secured victories. The Ravens have won four-straight and eight of the last nine.

A win for Baltimore will mark the second consecutive season the Ravens have swept the Steelers in regular season play. A loss for Pittsburgh, and a 6-6 record, will make it very hard to make the postseason.

Odds: Baltimore is favorite (-8) with the over/under at 34.

Take: Baltimore – Pittsburgh is 0-6 when playing the Ravens without Ben Roethlisberger, and while Troy Polamalu will return for the defense, it doesn’t look good for a Steelers side in trouble. However, take the Steelers to cover the spread and the total to go under; this could well be a repeat of the 13-10 game we saw two weeks ago.


Tampa Bay Buccaneers @ Denver Broncos

Two sides that struggled early in the season but have been hot of late square-off at Mile High on Sunday afternoon.

Tampa Bay (6-5, 3-2 road) opened the season 1-3 but has turned things around as the season has progressed. A 24-23 loss to the Atlanta Falcons may prove costly though. If the Bucs lose this weekend, the Falcons will be awarded the NFC South title.

Denver (8-3, 4-1 home) opened up the season 1-2 but has taken seven of the last eight, including the last six. A win on Sunday would give the Broncos their first seven-game winning streak since 1998, when John Elway and Co. went on to win a second consecutive Super Bowl. A win also would be enough to wrap-up the (pitiful) AFC West.

Denver has had good fortune against the Buccaneers in the past, winning five of seven encounters all-time and three of the last four. Tampa Bay meanwhile is 1-3 in Denver, with that solitary win coming back in 1996.

Denver will look to take advantage of the No. 32-ranked Tampa Bay defense instead of running the football; Willis McGahee is out injured and the Bucs have the best defense against the run in the league.

Odds: Denver is seven-point favorites heading into this one, with the over/under at 51½.

Take: Denver – Home field advantage could play big in this one (when doesn’t it in Denver?), especially with the Bucs woeful record in the Mile High City. Tampa Bay has very much punched above its weight class this season, but Denver will prove too much. Take the Bucs – the best team in the league against the spread (8-2-1 ATS) –  to cover the spread though. Take the total to go over; Denver and Tampa Bay are numbers three and four respectively in scoring this season.


Week 13 Schedule

Thursday: New Orleans 13-23 Atlanta

Sunday: (1 PM ET) Jacksonville @ Buffalo | Seattle @ Chicago | Indianapolis @ Detroit | Minnesota @ Green Bay | Carolina @ Kansas City | New England @ Miami | Arizona @ NY Jets | San Francisco @ St. Louis | Houston @ Tennessee; (4:05 PM ET) Tampa Bay @ Denver; (4:25 PM ET) Pittsburgh @ Baltimore | Cleveland @ Oakland | Cincinnati @ San Diego; (8:20 PM ET) Philadelphia @ Dallas

Monday: (8:30 PM ET) NY Giants @ Washington

Monday Night Football, Basketball Betting Tips

Chicago QB Jay Cutler is out. San Francisco QB Alex Smith may be too. Expect a defensive display on Monday Night Football.

There’s a big ol’ battle brewing out on the West Coast tonight as the Chicago Bears travel to San Francisco. We already know Chicago quarterback Jay Cutler (concussion) is out, but we’ll have to wait until closer to game time to find out whether his San Francisco counterpart, Alex Smith (concussion), will be absent too.

Monday Night Football closes out Week 11 of the NFL just in time for Thursday’s Thanksgiving festivities and football kicks off.

Meanwhile, the NBA hosts a seven-game slate Monday night headlined by a showdown between early Western Conference frontrunners San Antonio and the L.A. Clippers.

Read on to pick-up a few handy tips that could be the difference between a payout and an empty wallet come Tuesday morning.


NFL: Chicago Bears @ San Francisco 49ers

8:30 PM ET

Monday night’s ‘Concussion Bowl’ resonates with serious implications, both in terms of game results and the health of players. Whichever team loses – providing there is a loser; take note San Francisco – will be facing a loss of momentum thanks to last week’s results: a loss for the Bears and a tie for the Niners.

It’s unlikely that Chicago (7-2, 3-1 road) would have been favored heading into this one even if Cutler was taking the field, but the Bears’ defense always ensures there’s a chance. The offense is a different story though.

A victory for San Francisco (6-2-1, 3-1-1 home) will open up some valuable daylight between the Niners and the trailing Seahawks, who are idle this week.

Odds: San Francisco opened as 4½-point favorites but news of Cutler’s absence has increased the spread to seven with some bookmakers. The over/under is a paltry 36½.

Take: San Francisco – Yes the Niners potentially have an advantage with Cutler definitely being out and Smith maybe absent. But forget that. Here’s a reason to bet on the Niners; the Bears have not won in San Francisco since October 13, 1985. Yes, 1985! That period encompasses seven straight losses, and while this sort of record was meant to be broken, don’t expect it this season. Take the Bears to cover the spread in a close game, with the total going under; this could easily end up 14-10 or similar.


NBA: Milwaukee Bucks @ Charlotte Bobcats

7:00 PM ET

Let’s be honest, Milwaukee and Charlotte aren’t the first two names you expect to see on a list of intriguing NBA match-ups but welcome to the 2012-13 NBA season.

The Bucks (6-2, 3-0 road) are actually one of the Eastern Conference’s frontrunners so far this season, leading the Central Division and one of only six teams with a winning record in the East.

The Bobcats (4-4, 3-2 home) meanwhile are one victory from having a winning record in a season that has looked, well, not terrible so far this season. They’ve beaten the Pacers, Mavericks and T’Wolves, so it’s not all about beating up on the Wizards – they’ve done that too – so there’s a little hope floating around North Carolina.

Odds: The Bucks are a rare road favorite on Monday’s NBA slate, with the spread at 3½ in Milwaukee’s favor. The over/under is 193½.

Take: Milwaukee – Expect Monta Ellis and the Bucks to take their unbeaten road streak with them to Miami on Wednesday, whilst covering the spread in this one. Take the under on the total; while the Bucks are high-scorers (5th in the league), the Cats won’t keep their end of the scoring bargain.


NBA: Los Angeles Clippers @ San Antonio Spurs

8:30 PM ET

After an impressive start to the season, the Los Angeles Clippers (7-2, 2-0 road) faces a first tough road trip of the season, a four-gamer that commences in San Antonio (8-2, 4-1 home).

The Clippers knocked off the Spurs at Staples two weeks ago so there’ll be a waft of revenge in the air. The Spurs lost a close game to New York on Thursday before bouncing back on Saturday against the Jekyll and Hyde-like Nuggets.

Odds: The hometown Spurs are favorites (-5) with the over/under at 199½.

Take: San Antonio Spurs – Five wins on the bounce for the Clippers, including victories over the Spurs, Heat and Bulls, would suggest that an upset here wouldn’t be the biggest surprise, but San Antonio is a tough place to go and get a win (the Spurs had the league’s best home record last year). Expect this to be close though, with the Clippers covering the spread, while the total goes under.


Remaining NBA Fixtures (Favorites highlighted)

Indiana @ Washington | Orlando @ Atlanta | Denver @ Memphis | Golden State @ Dallas | Houston @ Utah

Lions Head to the Windy City for Monday Night Football

Matthew Stafford wrenched D.J. Moore's helmet from his head the last time Detroit and Chicago met. Will the Bears be on the hunt for retribution?

You can bet that when the powers that be were putting together the Monday Night Football schedule they fully expected this matchup between Detroit (2-3, 1-2 road) and Chicago (4-1, 2-0 home) to be both a grudge match and a potential division-topper.

Of course, Detroit’s erratic play has the team languishing at the bottom of the division (below Minnesota!) while the Bears have been the talk of the north, charging to an impressive 4-1 record and top spot. This game might not decide who leads the division, but you can count on it being both a grudge match and an important fixture in terms of heading forward.

The last time these two sides met (November 13, 2011) Chicago took a 37-13 win in a hot-tempered affair that is best remembered for Matthew Stafford tearing D.J. Moore’s helmet off following an interception.

It was the kind of moment that has punctuated this rivalry since its inception in 1930, when the Bears took on the Lions (then known as the Portsmouth Spartans) for the first time. It was also the sort of moment this Chicago side isn’t likely to forget. You think we’re not going to see some Chicago defenders looking to get up close and personal with Mr. Stafford?

Chicago’s run of form has been built on a strong running game that has averaged 123.6 yards per game (good enough for ninth in the league). Matt Forte may only be rushing for 67.5 YPG but he’s getting help from Michael Bush (41.2 YPG). Detroit could be in for a long night, but the Lion’s own top ten rush defense may well be up for the challenge.

Detroit may well consider forgetting the run before the first quarter is over. Chicago has the number one rush defense in the league, giving up just 65.8 YPG. That leaves the team relying on Matthew Stafford’s arm.

Stafford has averaged 298.6 YPG through the air, leading the most prolific passing attack in the league. Whilst that is undoubtedly a good thing, the Detroit gunslinger has only connected on four touchdown passes all season. This miserly number is confounded by the five interceptions he’s thrown. Going through the air against Chicago could be tough, especially as the past two weeks have seen Lance Briggs and Charles Tillman return interceptions for touchdowns.

Meanwhile, Jay Cutler has put up consistent, if not awe-inspiring, numbers. He’s averaging 241.8 YPG and has tallied an even seven touchdowns and seven interceptions. The big worry at this time is that opposing defenses have gotten to him 14 times for sacks.

Historically speaking, the Bears lead the all-time series 95-65-5, and have won seven of the last eight and 11 of the last 13, a dominant record if ever there was one.


Odds: Lines opened with Chicago six-point favorites to take this one. As the week has progressed, this number has risen slightly (-6½). The over/under is 47½ points.

Take: Chicago – There’s a real temptation to pick Detroit for one simple reason: in the season of the upset, only one underdog (Tennessee) has come away with a win this weekend. A Detroit victory would be at the very least a talking point. However, this Chicago side looks defensively solid enough to put the Lions down. Stafford is unreliable through the air, and the Lions’ run game is less than stellar, and even less likely to trouble the number one rush defense in the league.

The two sides are combining for an average of 55 points per game this season. The total has gone over in six of the last eight Bears games at Soldier Field as well as five of seven Detroit games. The smart money then has to be on the OVER.


Player Props

If you’re looking for more action than the spread has to offer, Bovada is offering an extensive list of player props to get involved with. Here’s a few to get you started.

Will Matthew Stafford (DET) pass for more than 285½ yards? Yes (-125), No (-105)

Will Matthew Stafford (DET) throw more than 1½ touchdowns? Yes (-165), No (+135)

Will Matthew Stafford (DET) throw more than ½ interceptions? Yes (-260), No (+200)

Will Jay Cutler (CHI) pass for more than 260½ yards? Yes (-120), No (-105)

Will Jay Cutler (CHI) throw more than 1½ touchdowns? Yes (-155), No (+125)

Will Jay Cutler (CHI) throw more than ½ interceptions? Yes (-200), No (+160)

Will Calvin Johnson (DET) score a TD? Yes (-125), No (-105)

Will Brandon Marshall (CHI) score a TD? Yes (-125), No (-105)

Will Mikel Leshoure (DET) rush for more than 62½ yards? Yes (-125), No (-105)

Will Matt Forte (CHI) rush for more than 80½ yards? Yes (-125), No (-105)

Monday Night Football Sees Dallas Host Chicago

Tony Romo and the Dallas Cowboys host Jay Cutler and the Chicago Bears in an important matchup for both sides.

The Week 4 edition of Monday Night Football comes live from Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas, as the Dallas Cowboys (2-1, 1-0 home) host the Chicago Bears (2-1, 0-1 road).

Both teams have had somewhat tepid starts to the season and will be looking for a victory to really kick start the season. For bettors, the matchup presents an intriguing clash of two teams difficult to separate.

Mirror Images

For Dallas and Chicago, the 2012 season has brought much comparison. In terms of record, the two are even whilst both feature quarterbacks under the microscope and teams that have yet to really set out a stall.

In Week 1, Dallas upset the New York Giants, earning a 24-17 victory on the opening Wednesday of the season. Chicago opened its season with a win over the Indianapolis Colts and the debuting Andrew Luck.

In Week 2, Dallas was upset by Seattle. Not only were the Cowboys upset, they were embarrassed, succumbing to a 27-7 loss. Meanwhile, Chicago lost its Thursday Night Football showdown with the Green Bay Packers, effectively being played off the field.

In Week 3, Dallas manufactured a tough 16-10 win over Tampa Bay on what was essentially an impressive defensive outing. Chicago defeated St. Louis 23-6 but didn’t look as dominant as the scoreline would suggest.

Now the two teams meet on Monday night, both considered underachievers despite winning records.

Statistically Speaking

The game figures to be a defensive battle with both teams ranking inside the NFL’s top five defenses. Dallas leads the league only giving up 250 yards per game, while Chicago has limited opponents to 279 yards (5th).

The Cowboys have been particularly effective against the pass, conceding just 137 yards per game. Chicago is more effective against the run, conceding just 76 yards on the ground compared to the Cowboys’ 113.

That’s bad news for DeMarco Murray (DAL), who has been stifled the past two games after beating the 100-yard mark against New York in Week 1. It could be good news for Michael Bush (CHI) who has had an impressive start to the season. Matt Forte (CHI) is listed as questionable with an ankle injury that kept him out of last week’s game against St. Louis.

Offensively, both teams have been somewhat limited. Dallas is averaging 342 yards (19th) while Chicago is averaging 290 (26th). Neither team will be particularly happy with those numbers. Alarmingly, the Cowboys are only averaging 15.7 points per game, an anemic number that would suggest the team should be worse off than 2-1. That’s another reason to expect a defensive affair on Monday night.

Looking for an Edge

Dallas leads Chicago 13-9 in all-time in head-to-head contests, including two playoff victories. Dallas has won five of the last eight meetings, but the Bears took a 27-20 win in the last meeting (September 2010) between the pair.

The spread for this game opened at three (in favor of the Cowboys) and has extended to 3½. Bettors looking for an edge might want to consider the following: Dallas is 1-2 ATS this season including 0-1 at home and 0-2 as favorites. Advantage Bears? Maybe not. Chicago is 2-1 ATS this season but is 0-1 away and 0-1 as underdog. Something has to give.

The total has gone under in the Cowboys’ last five games, so the smart money is on taking the under on 42½ points. Bettors in the know have already seen that figure drop from 45 at opening.

As to who is likely to come out on top of this one, it’s really anybody’s pick. It wouldn’t be a stretch to imagine either side coming out with the win. Even if Chicago were to pull off an upset win, would it be all that much of an upset? Not really.

Ultimately, for players, coaches, fans and bettors alike, the one outcome everybody’s looking to avoid is another controversial finish like last Monday night.

Chicago Visits Green Bay in NFC North Showdown

Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers will be looking to bounce back from Sunday's defeat as the Chicago Bears arrive at Lambeau Field.

Thursday night sees the Chicago Bears (1-0, 0-0 road) visit longtime rivals the Green Bay Packers (0-1, 0-1 home) in an early NFC North divisional matchup.

The Packers are coming off a well-documented 30-21 loss at home to the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday. Chicago arrives at Lambeau Field on the back of a 41-21 drubbing of Andrew Luck and the Indianapolis Colts.

The fallout from Week 1’s results immediately impacted Futures with oddsmakers. Green Bay began the season at 6/1 to take the NFC championship and 10/3 to win Super Bowl XLVII. That loss to San Francisco has stretched those odds to 17/2 and 4/1 respectively.

Meanwhile, Chicago commenced play last Sunday with odds of 8/1 to win the NFC and 15/1 to lift the Vince Lombardi trophy. Both have been cut following last weekend’s win over Indianapolis, and now stand at 8/1 (NFC championship) and 15/1 (Super Bowl).

Despite the overall fall in favor, oddsmakers still pick Green Bay as the team to beat in the NFC North. The Packers currently stand at 2/3 to take the division, followed by Chicago (5/2), Detroit (4/1) and Minnesota (18/1).

Green Bay will look to bounce back from Sunday’s loss behind QB Aaron Rodgers. Rodgers threw for 324 yards in Week 1, tallying 2 TDs and 1 INT in the process. Passing though wasn’t a problem. The Packers combined for only 45 yards rushing, with new RB Cedric Benson – a former-Bear – getting just 18 yards on the ground. The stingy 49er defense may have played its part, but Packers coach Mike McCarthy will be hoping for a better performance against the Bears.

Green Bay’s defense against the run was less than stellar also. The Pack gave up 191 yards to Frank Gore and the Niners, something Lovie Smith and the Bears will no doubt pay close attention to. Expect a big dose of Matt Forte and Michael Bush, who combined for 122 yards on Sunday.

Green Bay WR Greg Jennings is listed as doubtful after suffering a groin injury against San Francisco. Donald Driver is ready to step in. The 14-year veteran still has enough in the tank to make a difference.

Chicago has listed both LB Brian Urlacher and CB Charles Tillman as questionable ahead of the game. If both miss the game, Chicago could be in for a rough ride.

Meanwhile, Bears QB Jake Cutler has fanned the flames with his comments regarding Green Bay’s secondary. His “Good Luck” message will not fall on deaf ears. He’d better hope his offensive line can stand up to the challenge then.

When the teams take to the field on Thursday (8:20 PM ET) Green Bay will be -6 favorites with the moneyline at -230. Chicago’s moneyline is set at +190. The over/under for the game is 52 points.

Bettors looking for a historical edge may prefer to go with the home side this week. Green Bay has won the last five games played between the sides at Lambeau Field, including a 21-14 victory in the NFC Championship Game in January 2011. The Packers took both head-to-head matchups from the Bears last season, on the way to a 15-1 record, and are 7-2 against Chicago since 2008. Over that period, the Bears have been outscored 110-54.

The Packers have recorded a 23-4 (.852) record at Lambeau since 2009 and 34-9 (.791) record since 2007. Chicago meanwhile has only had three seasons (2010, 2006, 2001) with a winning road record in the last 20 years.

Green Bay visits Soldier Field in Week 15 (December 16) for a second game against Chicago.