Our gameday look at the Week 2 finale from Chicago, plus early NFL trends for Week 3 teams playing thier first home game of the season
The Chicago Bears were 1-7 straight-up at Soldier Field last season and if we wanted to be fair, we could point out that five of those seven setbacks were against playoffs teams. But this is football and we have no interest in cutting John Fox slack for such a pitiful performance. Besides, the other two losses were against San Francisco and Detroit, who finished with five and seven wins respectively — So what have you done for me lately?
WEEK 2 MONDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL
Chicago opened with a less than impressive outing at Houston and unless Fox owed Brock Osweiler one from their time together in Denver, the 23-14 loss is a bad sign of things to come. Jay Cutler was sacked five times by the aggressive Texans pass rush and he’ll have to work on getting rid of the ball much quicker. This Eagles pass rush averaged 2.5 sacks per game on the road last year and recorded three takedowns in their Week 1 win over Cleveland.
Cutler’s best options will be quick reads to Alshon Jeffery and TE Zach Miller. Philadelphia struggled to defend against No. 1 wide receivers last season (23rd) and they were 19th vs. tight ends. The Eagles have a new boss this year, however, and D-Co Jim Schwartz is familiar with the Bears from his time with the Lions. Cutler’s secret weapon will be RB Jeremy Langford, who accounted for 63 all purpose yards and a score against Houston.
LEAVING THE NEST
With the praise that’s been heaped upon Carson Wentz for his work against the Browns, it’s surprising Philly is not favored tonight! Wentz showed good command of the offense but he’ll face a tougher task on the road against Vic Fangio’s unit. The loss of TE Zach Ertz (ribs) hurts but Chicago has weaknesses in the secondary that WR Jordan Matthews will expose.
Philly’s O-Line will have its hands full with an improved Chicago pass rush and there won’t be a ton of space for RB Ryan Mathews. The key for Wentz and Mathews will be avoiding turnovers. If the line stays patient and lets Wentz operate his gameplan, we give the Eagles a legitimate shot at pulling the upset. You can get Philly with the points at even money, too.
EARLY WEEK 3 NFL Trends
There are four teams making their home debut this weekend after opening with back-to-back home games. It’s something the league tries to limit but inevitably, up to five teams per season face the possibility of being 0-2 SU before setting foot on home turf.
The record for these teams since league realignment is 20-18 SU and 13-23-2 ATS with 22 overs and 16 unders. The four teams “live” this week are Green Bay (1-1), Miami (0-2), Tampa Bay (1-1) and Cincinnati (1-1). Three of four home teams are getting early action with bookmakers Monday but there is no line for the Broncos at Bengals game as we await news on Cinci QB Andy Dalton. It’s suspected Dalton has a lower body injury of some sort as he was seen hobbling to the locker room following the team’s loss in Pittsburgh.
Miami (-8) hosts Cleveland and you’ll want to keep tabs on the status of Browns QB Josh McCown (shoulder) as well as Dolphin RB Arian Foster (groin). Green Bay (-8.5) is home to Detroit and the Packers have won four-straight Week 3 home openers (3-1 ATS). Finally, the Rams are at Tampa Bay (-5.5), where the Bucs look to rebound from their 40-7 blowout in Arizona. Check the status of RB Doug Martin (hammy) and note that the past 17 teams to open at home in Week 3 after giving up more than 30 points are 4-12-1 ATS (also “live” against Miami).