Date/Time: December 15, 8:25 p.m. ET
Spread: New Orleans -3
The New Orleans Saints have an excellent opportunity to climb into the driver’s seat in the NFC South if they can beat the Chicago Bears on Monday Night Football. The Atlanta Falcons lost at home to the Pittsburgh Steelers to drop to 5-9 and the Saints can take a one game lead with two games to play, including Sunday’s head-to-head matchup. The Bears don’t have a whole lot to play for other than pride. With games against the Saints and the Lions, the Bears can play spoiler in two division races, but their playoff prospects have been dead for some time now. The Saints are road chalk for this Monday Night Football matchup.
The Saints could have positioned themselves a lot better in the NFC South, but they have lost four of their last five games, including a 41-10 blowout loss at home against the Carolina Panthers. Consistency has been a major issue all season long for New Orleans and the fact that they still have a shot at the playoffs is incredible. Sean Payton is expected to make some lineup changes to shake things up in an attempt to motivate his team for this stretch run. A 7-9 record may very well win the NFC South, but this game and next week’s game are huge for this Saints team.
The offense hasn’t been the problem for the Saints. They rank in the top 10 in both passing yards and rushing yards per game and have gained over 420 yards per game. Defensively, they are a trainwreck and Payton has been seen yelling on the sidelines with defensive coordinator Rob Ryan on more than one occasion. The Saints are 30th against the pass and 29th against the run, which is a concern against a Bears team that has some offensive pieces. The Bears also, however, have a terrible defense, so this game could become a major shootout.
Mel Tucker has reportedly been told that his services will no longer be needed after the season. The beleaguered defensive coordinator had a historically bad defense last season and the Bears have given up a league-high 29.1 points per game so far this season. After starting the season 2-1, the Bears have lost seven out of 10 games as injuries, distractions, and locker room fights have really affected their season. The Tucker firing is the latest distraction, along with some discontent about quarterback Jay Cutler, who is owed a lot of money by the team. In Chicago’s last four losses, they have been outscored 181-82.
The Bears are in an interesting scheduling spot for this game. Their last two games have been on Thursday, so they have had plenty of extra time to prepare for this game. NFL players are creatures of habit, however, so this quirky schedule may have more of a negative impact. Not to mention, the time around the holidays is always different for players and without a goal to work towards, the Bears may be a team to avoid over the last three weeks. They have not found a whole lot of success with the running game this season and it would be advisable to keep their defense off of the field against the Saints.
Both teams enter this game with identical 5-8 straight up and against the spread records. Sean Payton is now 84-51 straight up and 69-63-3 against the number. Marc Trestman, whose job security is not all that high right now, is 13-16 straight up and just 9-18-2 against the number.
Free NFL Pick: New Orleans Saints
As difficult as it is to lay points on the road with a Saints team that isn’t very good, struggles away from the Superdome, and probably doesn’t deserve to be laying points on the road, the Bears aren’t very good either and they don’t have anything to play for. There’s in-fighting with the team and the coaching staff and everybody is just ready for the season to be over. The Saints have their own problems and ultimately, bettors are probably better off listening to the BTB Betting Center’s pick as suggested by our database or finding something else to bet on.
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Adam Burke is a freelance writer and amateur handicapper with a knack for finding value through matchup analysis and a deep understanding of the sports betting market. His main area of expertise is baseball, with a background in sabermetrics and advanced statistics. He is the host of The Gridiron Gambling Report and our college football and college basketball BangTheBook.com podcasts on the BlogTalkRadio Network.