How the mighty have fallen. After looking like the team to beat in the NFC, the Bears will simply be happy to make the playoffs at this point. Actually, they would ecstatic, because they are going to need to win out to at least have a chance at a playoff spot. It is quite sad that has come to that for the Bears, after starting the year 7-1, they have slipped to 8-6. Their most recent win coming back in week 12 against the Minnesota Vikings. The Bears only have themselves to blame being in this spot. It looked like they would be fighting for a first round bye instead of scrambling to sneak into the playoffs. The Cardinals on the other hand are playing with nothing to lose. Like the Bears, they started off hot, but ultimately tailed off. The Cardinals began their slide much earlier than the Bears, losing 9 straight after winning 4 to open the season. Their victory against the Lions last week brought them to 5-9 on the season.
It may be a little funny to read, but the Cardinals desperately miss Kevin Kolb. Since Kolb went down, the team has sputtered, dropping 9 games in a row. He was having himself a respectable campaign over the first four weeks, passing for 1169 yards, 8 touchdowns, and 3 interceptions. It is disheartening for the Cardinals, as Kolb was expected to make giant leaps forward in 2012. If Kolb was healthy, we could certainly be talking about them fighting for a playoff position right now. Remember, the Cardinals are a team that knocked off the Patriots in Foxborough early in week 2. As it has it, they have had to rely on John Skelton and Ryan Lindley at quarterback. Skelton and Lindley have done equally bad, but Lindley is better than Skelton, which isn’t saying much. Lindley, a rookie out of San Diego State, has only passed for an average of 122 yards a game with 0 touchdowns and a 45.0 quarterback rating. The Cardinals offense is dead last in the NFL, averaging only 264.2 yards per game. That certainly has to improve if they are going to want to knock the Bears off.
The defense is what has kept the Cardinals from being the worst team in the NFL. While the offense is absolutely horrendous, their defense is a pretty good group. Cornerback Patrick Peterson has blossomed into one of the best at his position. Peterson has done a fine job minimizing damage against some of the NFL’s biggest weapons, including Calvin Johnson last week. Peterson has 47 tackles and an outstanding 7 interceptions. He has intercepted a pass in each of the Cardinals last four games. He will be responsible for blanketing Brandon Marshall in week 15. The Cardinals as a whole are 11th best on defense, allowing 335.8 yards a game and only 21.6 points. Their defense has been exploited a few times, however, giving up 58 to the Seahawks, 31 to the Rams, and 31 to the Packers. Other than those three games, they have been pretty stout.
The Bears offense under Jay Cutler was on fire during their 7-1 stretch, but has since had all kinds of problems. Cutler suffered a concussion several weeks ago, and the offense has suffered as a result. Cutler has reverted back to his turnover, mistake filled days, throwing 5 interceptions and 3 touchdowns since coming back in week 12. The offense has plenty of talented, but is prone to mental lapses in some weeks. The offense is ranked 29th in the NFL, only 3 spots behind the Cardinals. While they are 29th, they still have the potential to put up some points. The defense, like for most years, is the centerpiece of the Bears. While their core continues to age, they still get it done. They are 5th in the league, giving up only 319.6 yards per game and 17.1 points. The Cardinals don’t do anything particulary well on offense, so this could be tough sledding.
Bears vs. Cardinals Spread and Betting Odds:
Chicago Bears -5.5 (-115)
@ Arizona Cardinals +5.5 (-105)
Over 37 (-110)
Under 37 (-110)
Betting odds provided by Bovada.lv
Bears vs. Cardinals Pick:
Both of these teams are taking nosedives as we finish out the 2012 campaign. The Cardinals won last week, sure, but they are still 1-9 in their last ten games. If you were to just look at the score of the Cardinals game against the Lions last week, 38-10, you would think the offense was slicing and dicing the putrid Lions’ defense. The truth is the Lions played fine against the Cardinals offense, it was just mistake after mistake by the Lions on offense that gift wrapped touchdowns for the Cardinals. Lions’ Matthew Stafford tossed three interceptions, all three being costly turnovers with one going for a pick-6. If the Lions played mistake free football, the Cardinals would have been hard pressed to hit 20 points. Cardinals’ quarterback, Ryan Lindley, only managed to pass for 104 yards and an interception.
I don’t see how the Cardinals are going to score against the Bears’ defense. Lindley has had atrocious games against atrocious defenses, insert the Lions here. He could be in for a rough day against one of the best defenses in the NFL. I like the Bears to come out with some heart, especially on defense, minimizing the Cardinals to around 10 points. I think that will be enough for the Bears to cover the -5.5. My play is the Bears with a lean to the under.
PICK = Bears -5.5