God bless Thursday Night Football. The NFL presents another interleague matchup this week as the NFC Chicago Bears travel to Miami to take on the AFC Miami Dolphins. The Dolphins beat the Titans last week, and did an excellent job of shutting down Randy Moss, while the Bears are also coming off a victory, a home win against the Vikings. But one team must lose (well, not entirely true) but we’re certainly in for a good game that’ll feature a few promising story lines. Let’s take a look…
The Bears are 6-3 and are top of the NFC North, a division that many thought would be one of the toughest this year. The Mike Martz affect was supposed to turn Chicago into an offense heavy team, but they surprisingly rank in the bottom of offense categories. Jay Cutler has looked good at times, and he certainly started off the year with a bang, but since then has returned to his usual self. He still has problems with decision making and forces a lot of throws into tight spaces that often get intercepted or fall incomplete. Matt Forte’s “comeback” year has also stalled. He’s averaging 3.8 yards per carry, and is showing none of the ability he showed in his rookie year. So why are the Bears 6-3? Well their defense is playing very good football. Julies Peppers has made a huge impact on the pass rush, and Brian Urlacher has returned to form after he missed most of last season due to injury. The Bears beat up a weak and distracted Vikings team last week to win their 6th game of the season, but as you’ll see in my predictions later, they’ve reached 6 wins against very beatable teams.
The Dolphins have a much different story. At 5-4, they’ve been excellent on the road, going 4-1, while losing 3 of 4 at home. They got their first home win last week with a combination of QB’s. Third string QB Tyler Thigpen finished the game and will be behind centre on Thursday. Nevertheless, the Dolphins played very well and did an excellent job of shutting down Randy Moss. Although it’s taken Miami this long to notch a home win, they haven’t actually played that poorly at home. They’ve faced a very tough home schedule (NE, JETS, PITT) and, minus the Patriots game, have played their opponents very tough. A stark contrast to how Chicago’s season has gone, with the Bears racking up victories against teams in bad situations.
Bears vs. Dolphins Spread, Line and Betting Odds:
Chicago Bears +1
@ Miami Dolphins -1
Bears vs. Dolphins Prediction for Week 11 Betting:
Spread Prediction (Top Play): Like I said above, the Bears 6 wins have come against bad teams, and good teams in bad situations. Here’s a breakdown: Week 1 win over Detroit. Lions had the victory with a last second Calvin Johnson TD catch that was called back. Week 2 win over a Dallas team that had given up on their coach. Week 3 win over the Packers who were driving in the last seconds to win before James Jones fumbled without being touched to end the game. Week 9 win over winless Buffalo Bills. Week 10 win over Vikings team that are filled with distractions and have some key injuries on both sides of the ball. That’s 5 of their 6 wins, and I’m not trying to connect the dots here, but if you couple these wins with their season stats, you’ll see that the Bears are not a 6-3 team. They rank 29th in offensive yards, 23rd in rushing, 21st in passing and 23rd in points per game. Their defense is playing at a top 10 level, but do I think they can go into Miami and beat a much better overall Dolphins team? Absolutely not. Miami have looked very good in their losses, and against the top teams in the AFC. If you still don’t believe me that Miami will cover, check these out: Dolphins are 4-1 in their last 5 ATS, 7-3 ATS vs. a team with a winning record, and the Bears are 2-9-1 ATS in their last 12 games as a road underdog.
Game Total Prediction: The Under 40 play is always a tough one to pick, especially with Prime Time games. However Thursday Night Games tend to go Under more often than not because of the short week. Offenses don’t have that extra time to exploit the opposing defense. And as much as I’d stay away from this number normally, I like how the Dolphins looked last week against a very good Titans offense, and I like how Jay Cutler plays on Prime Time. In 4 Prime Time games away from Chicago, Cutler has 3 TDs and 12 INTs.