NFL forecast: London calling for Bears cover

By Matt Youmans  (VSiN senior editor) 

October 6, 2019 10:07 AM
The Khalil Mack-led Bears have not allowed more than 15 points in a game this season and rank No. 2 in the NFL in scoring defense (11.3 points per game).
© USA Today Sports Images

Two years ago, Derek Carr and Khalil Mack were the faces of the Raiders’ franchise. Mack was traded to Chicago in September 2018, and time will tell if Carr survives and makes the move to Las Vegas.

When the two stars cross paths today in London, Mack will be motivated to get in Carr’s face and stick it to Oakland coach Jon Gruden.

The Bears have not allowed more than 15 points in a game this season and rank No. 2 in scoring defense (11.3 ppg) behind New England. This game means something extra to Mack, who will be hellbent on getting quarterback pressures and sacks and can take advantage of a mediocre Oakland offensive line. There should be no decline in the Chicago offense with Chase Daniel replacing Mitchell Trubisky, and coach Matt Nagy might actually expand his playbook a little due to his confidence in Daniel.

The Raiders, on the road for the third consecutive week, are 3-13-1 ATS in their past 17 as away ‘dogs. The Bears are 8-1 under the total in their past nine games. I played the Bears as 5-point favorites and, although the line is up to six, will stick with that popular side as the pick.

Four more picks for Week 5 (home team in CAPS):

* STEELERS (plus-3.5) over Ravens: After bullying the league’s two weakest teams, Baltimore finally faced legit competition and got pushed around by Kansas City and Cleveland. The media propped up quarterback Lamar Jackson as an MVP candidate, but that hype was as phony as the defense. The Ravens were lit up through the air by Kyler Murray (349 yards), Patrick Mahomes (374) and Baker Mayfield (342), and their run defense was exposed by the Browns. The Steelers’ initial six-point dropoff from Ben Roethlisberger to Mason Rudolph was an overreaction because Big Ben was playing poorly before his injury. Pittsburgh has covered its past two games, with Rudolph completing 24 of 28 passes in a 27-3 victory over the Bengals on Monday. The Steelers have several flaws, and the Ravens do rate as the better team, but Baltimore’s edge is slight and the line is inflated at more than a field goal.

* Jaguars (plus-3.5) over PANTHERS: In a 17-3 hole in Denver, the Jaguars had little going on offense and everything was going the way of a desperate, winless Broncos team. But overcoming the odds is the foundation for “Minshew Mania.” Jacksonville believes in its rookie quarterback, who might be the best sixth-round pick since Tom Brady. Gardner Minshew has got mobility and moxie. He’s got a completion percentage (69.4) that ranks sixth in the NFL. He’s also got the support of an elite defense — even without Jalen Ramsey — that will keep the Jaguars in almost every game. It’s a similar story with Kyle Allen and the Panthers. Allen’s completion percentage (71.7) ranks fourth. He has made Cam Newton and his goofy postgame costumes a forgotten sideshow in Carolina, where the Panthers are 1-4 ATS in their past five home games. Pull on a headband, tape on a fake mustache and take the field goal and hook with a live ‘dog.

* Vikings (-5.5) over GIANTS: The pressure is on Kirk Cousins to do something in the vertical passing game. With their bad pass defense, the Giants happen to be the ideal opponent for Cousins and Adam Thielen, who was blanketed by the Bears. Rookie quarterback Daniel Jones is 2-0, but he has not seen anything like this Minnesota defense. The Giants are 1-6 ATS in their past seven as home ‘dogs.

* Broncos (plus-5.5) over CHARGERS: This is an ugly road ‘dog, but winless Denver is desperate and will be up for this division game. I almost always bet against Philip Rivers in the home favorite role as the Chargers are 2-7-1 in their past 10 laying points in L.A. Sharp money has forced this line down from 6½.

Last week: 2-3 against the spread

Season: 11-9

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