Denver (7-2) at Chicago (4-5)
When: Sunday, November 22nd 2015
Where: Soldier Field, Chicago, IL
Time: 1:00 ET | TV: CBS
If the Denver Broncos want to avoid their first three-game losing streak in three years, they’ll have to do it without future Hall-of-Famer Peyton Manning, who is dealing with a torn plantar fascia. Brock Osweiler will make his first career start for 7-2 Denver in Chicago. Manning was obviously playing hurt last week as he went 5-for-20 with four interceptions, giving 17 for the season. Osweiler went 14-for-24, 146 yards, a TD, and an interception. Not helping things in the current two-game skid is the running game. Ronnie Hillman and C.J. Anderson have combined for 27 carries and only 86 yards in the past two games. Denver still have the top-ranked defense in the NFL in yards allowed, but have let up 56 points in the last two contests. Defensive end Demarco Ware, who leads the team with 6.5 sacks, could miss his second straight game with a sore back. Denver still has a comfortable three-game lead over Kansas City and Oakland, but have a tough schedule to end the season including the Patriots, Steelers, and Bengals.
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The Chicago Bears are quietly sneaking back into the Wild Card race with two road wins in a row over the Chargers and Cardinals. After an 0-3 start people were writing them off and wondering where Jay Cutler was going to be traded to. Cutler has responded with six straight 200+ yard games and has 11 touchdowns to just 3 interceptions in that span. Running back Matt Forte has missed the last two games and is questionable Sunday, but rookie Jeremy Langford has picked up the slack with 324 total yards and three touchdowns in his place. Alshon Jeffery was held to just 3 catches last week as he still deals with an injured groin, but TE Zach Miller has three TDs in the last two games. The defense has been getting stronger each week allowing opponents under 20 points in four of the last six games. The Bears are in a six-way tie for 7th in the NFC, two games behind the Packers and Falcons for the final playoff spot. Chicago has a few ‘easy’ games left with San Francisco, Washington, Tampa Bay, and Detroit, so don’t count them out just yet.
I can’t see taking a quarterback in his first career start. Denver’s defense has some holes right now and Jay Cutler is playing well enough to exploit that. I’ll take the hotter team in this one today.
Pick: Bears -1