The Los Angeles Rams host the Chicago Bears on Monday Night Football this week, in a battle of NFC playoff hopefuls.
Wes Reynolds and Dave Tuley preview the game and break down their best bets.
Reynolds: The Bears (5-1 straight up; 4-2 against the spread, including 4-1 ATS as underdogs) somehow find themselves atop the NFC North despite having the NFL’s 28th-ranked offense (312.8 ypg). Their seventh-rated defense (337.2 ypg; 19.3 ppg) has carried the day for a team that doesn’t win pretty and seems to always win close (victories by four, four, four, one and seven points).
Bears QB Nick Foles hasn’t been statistically better than Mitch Trubisky, the man he replaced, but he is 2-1 as a starter and led the Bears to a comeback in Atlanta in Week 3 that won him the starting gig for the time being.
The Rams (4-2 SU; 3-3 ATS) hope to fare better under the prime-time lights, as they came up lame last Sunday night at San Francisco. While both teams have good records to start the season, both also have more to prove, especially the Rams considering their four victories have come against the entire NFC Least, which has a combined record of 7-20-1. The Rams have the league’s No. 4 defense (318.5 ypg) but have faced two of the league’s three worst offenses (Washington and the Giants).
Chicago has been outgained in each of its last three games, has failed to reach 275 yards in those three games and has a minus-24 per game yardage differential. But its defense held Tampa Bay to just 243 yards and Carolina to only 261. The Bears look to be winning with smoke and mirrors, but they are winning. Meanwhile, the Rams should be hungry off a bad performance last Sunday night and are 4-1-1 ATS in their last six off a loss. They are currently six-point favorites, and the Bears look to be getting most of the tickets of what looks to be a big number on the surface.
Both clubs have their share of injuries, but Chicago’s could potentially be more severe as defensive ends Khalil Mack and Akiem Hicks did not practice on Friday, and Mack saw only limited action in Saturday’s session. Rams head coach Sean McVay indicated running back Darrell Henderson and wide receiver Robert Woods are expected to play, and only tight end Tyler Higbee was listed as questionable.
The total opened at 47 and has come down to 44.5, which you do not often see in a stand-alone, prime-time game. However, the meetings between these two clubs over the last two seasons have been low-scoring affairs:
2019 at LA: Rams 17, Bears 7; closing total: 40
2018 at Chicago: Bears 15, Rams 6; closing total: 51
The Rams also are 13-3 to the Under in their last 16 games as a favorite, while the Bears are 4-1 to the Under in their last five overall games. The betting public likes to bet the Overs in prime-time games, but the books may prefer the Over in this spot.
Sometimes the two major NFL contests in Las Vegas — Westgate SuperBook SuperContest and Circa Sports Million — can give indicators on which side might be considered the popular one. The SuperContest has 333 selections on the Bears 6 and only 131 selections on the Rams -6 out of 1,172 entries. Meanwhile, the Circa Sports Million has 854 entries on the Bears and 395 on the Rams out of 3,148 entries.
Last week on “Sunday Night Football,” the Rams were proven to be a bit fraudulent in their 24-16 loss to the 49ers. Will it be the Bears turn to be proven somewhat fraudulent Monday night?
Tuley: There’s a consensus out there -- and here at VSiN -- that the 5-1 Bears are doing it with mirrors, but at some point maybe we have to admit that the Bears are better than they’re being given credit for. I’m not totally sold on them (last week, I was only willing to tease them up to 7.5 vs. the Panthers instead of betting them straight or using in any contests), but they keep getting the job done on both sides of the ball. The Rams’ best effort here should handle the Bears, but we’ve seen that they don’t always bring their best (first half at Bills, whole game vs. Giants and last week at 49ers).
Pick: Bears + 6