Do you really need five reasons to bet the Chicago Bears in this Monday nighter?
Apparently not, as their odds are rising with every keystroke I make. I suppose some of you see that as a reason to take the Arizona Cardinals. After all, sharp bettors have been known to make a buck or two by fading Joe Q. Public.
But the squares have it right in this case. This Bears team is the total package, and all the pieces are working together in perfect harmony.
The defensive front controls the line of scrimmage and gets into the backfield, which allows the other seven to wreak havoc in the secondary. That forces the opposing offense to take risks, which results in turnovers, which puts Rex Grossman and Co. right on the door step. Grossman and the offense run up the score, which makes the opposing team one-dimensional, which in turn makes things that much easier on the defense.
So as you can see, Chicago is locked in a cycle of spread covering perfection and is ready to run Arizona through the wringer. Here are my top five reasons to bank on the Bears Monday night.
5. Rolle out the pass interference penalties
Arizona’s Antrel Rolle isn’t much of a cornerback.
In fact, he just about had to rip Larry Johnson’s head off last week (remember that vicious facemask?) just to stop the Kansas City running back from picking up a huge gain on a screen pass.
Now he’s being asked to cover Bernard ‘the Burner’ Berrian, the Chicago wide receiver who leads the league with five catches of 40 yards or more and four touchdowns. It’s going to be tough for Rolle just to keep pace with the speedy Berrian. If he does, the officials will be tossing the flag if he so much as lays a finger on Berrian after the stunt he pulled against the Chiefs last week.
Any way you cut it, that means strong field position for Chicago and you don’t want to let this offense anywhere near your paydirt. The Bears have converted on seven of their last 11 trips to the red zone.
4. Bears D-line boosted, Cards O-line wounded
The only way you could make Chicago’s defensive front any more dominant is to put a tank on the field.
That’s exactly what the Bears have done, naming Tank Johnson their starting defensive tackle after his stellar fill-in job for Ian Scott last Sunday. Johnson was credited with two quarterback hurries in last week’s dismantling of Buffalo and was flawless on his assignments.
Naming Johnson as the starter not only upgrades what was already the NFL’s best D-line, but also gives it incredible depth.
"The biggest thing is you look at it as what does it do for us in terms of rotation,” defensive coordinator Ron Rivera told the Chicago Sun-Times. “It starts a guy out and keeps the rotation going."
Meanwhile, the Cardinals are busy trying to patch up their porous offensive line. Nick Leckey is expected to replace the struggling Alex Stepanovich as the starting center, while Chris Liwiensk gets the nod in place of injured right guard Milford Brown.
3. ‘Steal of the draft’ out to sack Leinart
Lovie Smith wasn’t exaggerating when he said Mark Anderson was the steal of this year’s draft class.
In a year that saw Reggie Bush, Matt Leinart and Vince Young enter the pro game, the Alabama defensive end flew under the radar. Now he’s flying up into the faces of opposing quarterbacks and force-feeding them turf.
“I`m just going to come in and help out the best way I can,” he told the Sun-Times. “I know what I can do.”
Leinart will learn the hard way what Anderson can do Monday night. The rookie end’s five and a half sacks currently ranks second in the league. The only thing standing between him and Leinart is an offensive line that’s given up 17 sacks, the fourth most in the NFL.
2. No Larry, no long balls for Cardinals
When you’re betting a team in this pointspread range, your biggest fear is the dreaded backdoor cover.
The quarterback you’re betting against tosses up a Hail Mary late in the game just for the heck of it, one of his wideouts pulls it down in the end zone for some garbage points and screws your payday.
Pro Bowl receiver Larry Fitzgerald might have played that role Monday night, except he’s expected to miss the game with a hamstring injury. That’s leaves Anquan Boldin as Arizona’s sole deep threat, but with Johnson out of the picture the Bears are free to double team him all night.
1. It’s all in the numbers
I’d never recommend handicapping a game on stats alone, but these numbers speak for themselves.
The Bears are No.1 in points scored (31.2), No.1 in points allowed (7.2) have won four of their five games by at least 26 points and are 4-1 against the number.
Chicago is clearly in a class by itself, so don’t over think this one. Just give the points, and then take your book’s money.
Still not sold on Chicago? Check out Josh Hansen’s top five reasons the Cardinals will cover.
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