The NFL is back and we have an Week 1 ATS prediction from Sunday’s game between the Chicago Bears and Houston Texans
The Chicago Bears head into the Lone Star State Sunday, site of last season’s 30-0 playoff blowout by the Chiefs over the home town Houston Texans. Odds on this game favor the Texans by six and the Over/Under is set at 44 across the board.
CHICAGO at HOUSTON
Houston had won three-straight divisional games ahead of January’s opening round loss to Kansas City but the AFC South was arguably the weakest division in football. The Texans were only 4-6 SU/ATS vs. non-divisional opponents, getting outscored 24-19 on average. The two Houston wins by double-digits were against a pair of losing teams (Saints, Bucs) and even with those victories, the Texans are still a .400 team all-time in non-conference play (21-31-4 ATS).
Chicago was 6-10 SU in HC John Fox’s first season with the club and their Season Win Total odds in 2016 are set at 7.5. Challenges include a new offensive coordinator for Jay Cutler and a rash of preseason injuries to their O-Line. Former Packer, Josh Sitton was signed Sunday to try and stabilize things and in this road opener we should look for the Bears to try and lean on Jeremy Langford and the run game early.
Cutler was 4-1 SU and 5-0 ATS on the road last year when Chicago carried at least 29 times. He has a nice pair of targets in Alshon Jeffery and Kevin White but always walks a fine line finding a balance between the run and pass. With his 21:11 touchdown to INT ratio last year, Cutler and O-Co Dowell Loggains don’t want to change much. Note that Loggains was the Bears QB coach in 2015, too, so he’s familiar with the system used by Adam Gase who left for Miami.
Houston’s offense features a new starting quarterback in Brock Osweiler, a fresh and seemingly underused running back in Lamar Miller and new faces throughout the O-Line. Add in their depth at wide receiver and the Texans are a popular pick to increases scoring substantially. They could take some time adjusting to each other and will be without starting LT Duane Brown for the first couple weeks so from my perspective, this line is putting a little too much weight into what could be.
Bears at Texans Pick
Chicago’s record from last year is helping inflate the odds but in Week 1, road dogs (Bears) that had six or less straight-up wins the previous season are 64-41-5 ATS (61-percent). In the past five years, single-digit dogs like Chicago are on a nice 17-3-1 ATS run, too.
JJ Watt (back) is always a concern and although he may be limited, the Texans have a solid linebacking crew and secondary to back it up. Cutler will have to be sharp but I think there’s upset potential here and with the six points, i’m backing Chicago to cover.
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