If any team has a more difficult three-game opening stretch than the Chicago Bears, I’d sure like to hear that argument. After facing an Atlanta team that led the NFC in wins last season, things get more difficult this week as the Bears travel to New Orleans, another double-digit win playoff club a year ago, in the Saints’ home opener. And then next week the Bears host Super Bowl Champion Green Bay.
Chicago was getting no respect heading into its opener–the Bears were on most books even behind the Lions to win the NFC North again and as three-point home favorites to Atlanta. But Chicago dominated in a 30-12 win. Yes, Atlanta slightly out gained the Bears, but the Falcons had three turnovers to Chicago’s one. The Bears QB Jay Cutler, in his first home game since the controversial injury in the NFC title game, was very good in going 22-for-32 for 312 yards, two TDs and just one pick. The Chicago coaching staff will take those numbers every Sunday.
The Saints, meanwhile, played in an instant classic against the Packers in the Thursday night opener, losing 42-34 despite Drew Brees essentially being perfect in throwing for 419 yards and three touchdowns. Except, the Saints had trouble in short-yardage situations (not to mention on slowing Aaron Rodgers) against the Green Bay defense all night, culminating in Mark Ingram being stopped at the goal line on the game’s final play. It’s still hard to believe coach Sean Payton didn't put the ball in Brees’ hands to possibly tie that game. The NFC South was 0-4 in Week 1, by the way.
Bears at Saints Betting Story lines
Before putting a bet down here, definitely monitor the situation of Bears All-Pro linebacker Brian Urlacher. He apparently rushed out of town Tuesday to attend to a family emergency in Arizona involving his mother. Recent reports state she has passed away. Urlacher is expected to be away from the Bears for several days and his status for Sunday’s game against the Saints is unclear. No. 54 was a beast against the Falcons. Urlacher scored a touchdown on a fumble return and intercepted a Matt Ryan pass and he had 10 tackles.
The only other likely significant player news on Chicago is that right guard Lance Louis is expected out after hurting his ankle in the opener. That Chicago line is already a question mark after Cutler was sacked an NFL-leading 55 times last year, and went down four more times vs. Atlanta. Backup RB Marion Barber missed the opener, but should be back for New Orleans. WR Roy Williams strained his groin in the opener but also seems likely to play.
As for the Saints, they didn't have WR Lance Moore or defensive end Will Allen for the opener. Moore remains "iffy" with a groin injury and Allen, the team’s best pass rusher, will miss a second game due to suspension. The big injury during the Packer game was to WR Marques Colston. He broke his collarbone vs. Green Bay and is out at least a month. Colston had six receptions for 81 yards against the Packers. He is the Saints’ top receiver and a favorite target of Brees on third downs and in the red zone. Colston had 84 receptions for 1,023 yards and seven touchdowns last season.
The Saints do have some solid receiver depth, but not having either Colston or Moore would definitely be a big blow—especially because the weak link of the Chicago defense is the secondary. Devery Henderson (100 yards in opener) and Robert Mechem would see increased roles in the passing game, as would tight end Jimmy Graham and running back Darren Sproles, who was terrific in his first game as a Saint vs. Green Bay.
The Bears have beaten the Saints in the past four meetings, but those were all in Chicago. New Orleans is 4-2 all time against Chicago in the Superdome. This marks the first game that long-time Bears Pro Bowl center Olin Kreutz, a former leader in that Chicago locker room, faces his former team after he and the Bears couldn't agree on a contract.
Bears at Saints Betting Odds and Trends
New Orleans is currently a seven-point favorite with the total at 47, according to NFL odds. About a 60 percent lean is on the Saints.
The Bears are 4-0 ATS in their last four games after allowing less than 15 points in their previous game. They are 5-1 ATS in their past six September games.
Saints are 1-4 ATS in their past five as a favorite.
The "over" is 7-2 in Chicago’s past nine games. And here’s a weird one: The ‘over’ is 10-1 in Saints’ past 11 Week 2 games. The ‘over’ is 4-0 in the past four meetings.
NFL Picks: Bears at Saints Betting Predictions
I don’t see how the Bears are not picked apart by Brees with Chicago sitting in that Tampa-2 defense. But if Moore is also out for sure, that is a huge break for the Bears. I do believe Urlacher makes that much of a difference. The Saints will win this game regardless. But if Urlacher plays, Chicago can cover (or at least push). If he does not, the Bears won’t. Also, take the "over" with the score somewhere in the 28-24 range.
Have look on our home page for current NFL odds, game previews, betting tips and picks: Doc’s Sports