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|Chicago Bears (5-0) 11 ½, O/U 40 at Arizona Cardinals (1-4), 8:30 p.m. Eastern Monday, ESPN
by Ultimatecapper.com Staff
Football Handicapping Nations new favorite team, the Chicago Bears, head to the desert southwest to tangle with the Arizona Cardinals at the new and glorious University of Phoenix Stadium on ESPNs Monday Night Football tonight.
Chicago is probably the most complete team in the league. The Bears simply rank 1st in points allowed 36 through five games and 2nd in points scored 156. Chicago shut out Green Bay in the season opener, gave up a meaningless touchdown to Detroit, held Minnesota to three field goals (the Vikings also scored on a defensive TD), limited Seattle to two 3-pointers and allowed another meaningless score to Buffalo last week.
The Bears have been so dominant, in fact, that they have gone over the posted total for their games three times by themselves this season.
Chicago is in first place in the NFC North, two games ahead of the second-place Vikings.
Arizona won its season opener at home over San Francisco, but has since lost at Seattle, at home to St. Louis, at Atlanta and at home last week to Kansas City, blowing a 10-point 4th-quarter lead.
The Cardinals are in last place in the NFC West, three games back of the division-leading Seahawks.
Chicago is 4-1 against the spread this season, the Cardinals 1-4.
The Bears are outrushing opponents by an average of 109-76 per game this season. Arizona, despite the heralded addition of RB Edgerrin James during the off-season, is getting outrushed by an average of 123-71 PG. Add to this the fact the Cardinals will be without two starters on the O-line Monday night.
Chicagos new-found offensive prowess can be directly attributed to the play of QB Rex Grossman, whos hitting for a 61% completion rate this season and owns a 10/3 TD/INT ratio.
The Bears offense ranks 4th in the NFL by averaging 356 yards of total offense PG. Arizona ranks 22nd at 291 YPG.
In his first career NFL start last week, Cardinals QB Matt Leinart went 22/25 for 253 yards vs. the Chiefs. But the Chicago defense and the K.C. defense are two very different things.
Bears kicker Robbie Gould is a perfect 17-for-17 on FG attempts this season, including 8-for-8 from 40-49 yards. Arizona owns one of the best kickers in the league in Neil Rackers, although he hasnt had many attempts this season. Rackers is 6-for-9 on FGs this season, and all three of his misses have come from 50 yards and beyond, including a potential game-tie-er last week vs. the Chiefs.
The O/U is a collective 6-3-1 in Bears and Cards games this season.
Arizona WR Larry Fitzgerald will most likely miss Monday nights game (and at least a few others) with a bad hamstring.
For what its worth, the Cardinals beat the Bears 23-16 in a pre-season game in August. Leinart went 15/21 for 144 yards. These two teams havent met in the regular season since a 28-3 Chicago win three seasons ago.
Chicago opened up as 10-point road favorites for Monday nights game, with a total of 37 ½. But the Bears are being bet up as game-time approaches, and the total is up to 40.
This season, 34 teams have outrushed their opponents and won both the turnover and time-of-possession battles in a particular game. Those teams are 31-3 straight up in those games and 29-5 against the spread. Chicago has already done this four times this season, and Arizona has done it once. But the Cardinals managed to lose that game, last week to Kansas City 23-20.
Home underdogs are 9-18 straight up this season, and 17-11 against the spread.
The Ultimatecapper Pick: We’re going to go against our own rules here and lay the big points in this game. No matter how we look at this game, we can’t figure out how Arizona will score more than 10 points. We expect the bears to get in the neighborhood of 21 or more, most likely a bit more as they’ve absolutely shellacked teams this season. Good luck!