CHICAGO BEARS (3-1)
at CAROLINA PANTHERS (0-4)
Kickoff: Sunday, 1:00 p.m. EDT, Line: Chicago -3, Total: 35.5
In a game marking the return of DE Julius Peppers to Carolina, the offenses are the story here with Bears QB Jay Cutler and Panthers WR Steve Smith both expected to miss Sunday’s contest. Cutler was knocked out with a concussion in Chicago’s 17-3 loss at New York last week and will not play against the Panthers. Cutler will be replaced by 38-year-old Todd Collins. Smith’s diagnosis is also bleak. He suffered a high ankle sprain in Carolina’s 16-14 loss at New Orleans and is doubtful to play on Sunday. Baseball odds.
Cutler has played well this season, completing 67 percent of his passes for 912 yards, 6 TD and 3 INT. He is the biggest reason the Bears are 3-1 and will be sorely missed. Collins has played less than eight games in all but one of his 16 NFL seasons, and that was back in 1997. Since that year, Collins is 101-for-166 for 1,297 yards, 6 TD and just 1 INT as a back-up. He was just 4-for-11 for 36 yards and an INT after replacing Cutler last week. Collins will be asked to manage the game and not throw the ball very far down the field. But Chicago has not established any kind of ground game, ranking 2nd-to-last in the NFL with 69 rushing YPG. Bears top rusher Matt Forte is only averaging 2.7 YPC this year, so Chester Taylor (3.5 YPC) may get more action. Baseball spreads.
The loss of Smith will be devastating to an already weak Carolina passing offense (25th in NFL). Neither QB in the Matt Moore/Jimmy Clausen duo has thrown for 200 yards in a game this year. WR Dwayne Jarrett also made news with his second DWI in three years, which prompted the Panthers to cut him. That leaves only two wide receivers with catches this year — David Gettis (7 rec.) and Brandon LaFell (4 rec.).
Since 2009, Carolina is 1-5 ATS against non-divisional opponents at home. This highly-rated FoxSheets trend also sides with Cutler-less Chicago on Sunday afternoon.
Play Against – Home teams (CAROLINA) – off a cover where the team lost as an underdog against opponent off a road loss.(28-5 over the last 10 seasons.) (84.8%, +22.5 units. Rating = 4*).
Despite the porous offenses, the FoxSheets advise to play Over the paltry total. Baseball lines.
Play Over – Any team where the total is between 35.5 and 42 points (CHICAGO) – in a game involving two average defensive teams (295 to 335 YPG). (70-28 over the last 5 seasons.) (71.4%, +39.2 units. Rating = 3*).