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NFL forecast: Trubisky mystery already solved

By Matt Youmans  (VSiN senior editor) 

September 22, 2019 04:45 AM
Mitchell Trubisky and the Bears are 4½-point favorites at Washington on Monday night.
© USA Today Sports Images

Over the summer, Las Vegas sportsbooks were hit by a large number of bets on Bears quarterback Mitchell Trubisky to win NFL MVP. The Trubisky phenomenon was a humorous mystery, similar to Bigfoot and UFO sightings.

Consider the mystery solved after only two games — those bettors were clueless and their wagers are already considered donations to the bookmakers.

Trubisky has more interceptions (one) than touchdown passes and has been sacked five times. He played well at times last year, but opposing defenses adjust and it was obvious this year was going to be tougher for Trubisky and the Bears.

Chicago, which is scoring 9.5 points per game, was lucky to win at Denver after a last-minute officiating blunder. The Bears hit the road for the second week in a row, this time laying more than a field goal despite Matt Nagy’s offense looking like a mess.

The Khalil Mack-led defense has been a monster, as expected, allowing 292.5 yards and 12 points per game. But the Washington offense has been surprisingly good. Case Keenum has completed 69 percent of his passes for 601 yards and five touchdowns with no interceptions against Philadelphia and Dallas, which has an elite defense.

After facing Carson Wentz and Dak Prescott, the Redskins are more than prepared for Trubisky’s pop-gun passing attack.

I’ll take 4½ points with the Monday night home ‘dog.

Four more plays for Week 3 (home team in CAPS):

* Broncos (plus-7½) over PACKERS: Denver’s pass-rushing duo of Von Miller and Bradley Chubb has been too quiet. It’s time to put some pressure on the quarterback and it’s not a bad time to cross paths with Aaron Rodgers, who’s obviously struggling in a new offense. I like quality 0-2 teams backed against the wall, and the desperate Broncos fit that description. Of course, Joe Flacco will need to play better than Kirk Cousins did last week at Lambeau Field.

This line was eight early in the week and it’s mostly seven now, though Circa still has 7½. Green Bay will be on most parlays and teasers today, so expect the line to hit 7½ at more books.

* Lions (plus-5½) over EAGLES: This line has dipped from seven to as low as five, but Detroit still is the play. It’s not time to panic in Philadelphia. When the offense is fully loaded, and assuming Carson Wentz stays healthy, the Eagles will be fine. But the Lions are catching them at the right time. This is a ‘dog that has a decent shot to win outright.

Eagles coach Doug Pederson canceled Wednesday’s practice to rest his banged-up team. Wentz will be missing his top deep threat — wideout DeSean Jackson (abdominal strain) — and might also be without Alshon Jeffery and tight end Dallas Goedert (calf injuries). Tight end Zach Ertz (ribs) is also hurting, and defensive tackles Malik Jackson and Tim Jernigan are out with foot injuries. Wentz is averaging 6.6 yards per pass attempt to rank 23rd in the league. It’s sometimes difficult to bank on Matthew Stafford, yet he’s off to a strong start with 315 passing yards per game and 8.4 per attempt. Philadelphia’s 31st-ranked pass defense (340 ypg) was lit up by the Redskins’ Case Keenum two weeks ago. Aside from a late breakdown in Arizona, Detroit’s defense has been solid (18.5 ppg).

* Texans (plus-3) over CHARGERS: Philip Rivers is still grinding and gutting it out, but the Chargers’ offensive line is struggling and some big-play potential is missing without running back Melvin Gordon and tight end Hunter Henry. Rivers has been intercepted twice and sacked five times in two down-to-the-wire games. This should be another nailbiter, and this is not a positive recent role for Rivers, who’s 2-5-1 ATS as a home favorite since the beginning of last season. Deshaun Watson traded shots with Drew Brees in a Superdome shootout in Week 1, so there’s no reason to doubt him here. The Texans have been tough on the road, 5-4 straight up in their past nine with only one loss by more than three points (27-20 at New England in the 2018 season opener). Look for 3½ to reappear in the afternoon.

* Steelers (plus-6½) over 49ERS: This is a risky play because of Kyle Shanahan’s sharp play-calling opposite the Steelers’ flawed defensive schemes. The Xs and Os favor San Francisco, but not the situation.

Pittsburgh’s rating has dropped about six points, but oddsmakers are overestimating the drop-off from Ben Roethlisberger to Mason Rudolph. Big Ben was simply bad against the Patriots and Seahawks (56.5 percent completions, 5.7 yards per attempt, zero TDs) before going down with a season-ending elbow injury. Rudolph, who passed for two touchdowns in relief last week, could actually spark the offense. It helps that running back James Conner is ready to play. The addition of safety Minkah Fitzpatrick via trade with Miami might be questioned in the big picture, but Fitzpatrick should provide an immediate boost to a defense that desperately needs his talent. San Francisco seems overvalued after road wins against weak offensive teams (Cincinnati and Tampa Bay). This is a better situation than it appears for the Steelers. Teams that started 0-2 ATS and hit the road in Week 3 went 4-1 ATS last year and 3-1 ATS in 2017. Big Ben was being rated like an elite quarterback, but that was no longer the truth. The Steelers are probably undervalued after twice burning the betting public.

Last week: 3-2 against the spread

Season: 6-4

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