A 2-0 start to the 2014 pre-season has gotten us off to a rolling start here at The Sports Geek. We’ll look to keep the momentum going throughout the exhibition season and into the regular season. Tonight, it’s Thursday Night Football and there’s only one game slated for today. The lowly and seemingly perenially awful Jacksonville Jaguars will trot our their unique collection of young talent against the Chicago Bears. For Jacksonville, it’s clear a culture change is needed, and an emphasis on improved pre-season performances has been touched upon. We’ll delve into our in-game predictions and how each coach plans to handle their starters and youngsters as we inch closer to Week 1 of the regular season.
Jaguars at Bears Betting Odds:
Jacksonville Jaguars +3 (-110)
@ Chicago Bears -3 (-110)
Over 42 (-110)
Under 42 (-110)
Betting odds provided by Bovada.lv
Jaguars at Bears Pick:
If this was a regular season match-up a 3-point spread between these two teams would surely be head-scratching, but pre-season games are very different encounters. It’s important to nail down quarterback rotations and the plans of the head coach, as well as factoring in individual team motivation.
In the opening week of the pre-season, all three of the Bears quarterbacks looked solid en route to a 34-28 victory against the Philadelphia Eagles. Longtime Bears starter Jay Cutler is slated to get an entire quarter against the Jags tonight, while capable back-ups Jordan Palmer and Jimmy Clausen continue to fight for the back-up position. Something that makes the Bears an intriguing selection tonight is the ongoing competition for that coveted back-up spot. Both Palmer and Clausen were excellent in their first game, and it’s clear that this internal competition is giving Chicago some pre-season success. Additionally, it’s believed that defensive end Jared Allen will also make his Bears debut at home tonight.
For the Jaguars, they are still very much a team in transition, with holes at virtually every position. While coach Gus Bradley contends that Chad Henne will definitively be under centre for Week 1, Blake Bortles had a 99.4 quarterback rating last week and was very effective against the Buccaneers. But taking on the Bears, in a nationally-televised game will be a whole different ball-game for the rookie. Sure Bortles looked good last week, but he only ever faced more than a four-man rush once. The Bears predicate their defense on blitzing and getting pressure on the opposition quarterback. Playing behind the back-ups of a brutal offensive line in Jacksonville, Blake Bortles will struggle Thursday night. Expect a lot of pressure from the Bears, and Bortles will have difficulty managing it. By all accounts from Jaguars practises this week, Bortles has struggled in controlled scrimmages when faced with additional pressure and unique looks. It could be a long evening under the lights for the rookie out of Central Florida.
Even though it’s just a pre-season game, Bears coach Marc Trestman plans to give Jay Cutler and his starters an entire quarter against the Jags. Weeks 2 and 3 of the pre-season can be quite important as most first-teamers don’t play in Week 4 in order to be fully prepared for Week 1 of the regular season. The Bears will take this seriously in front of their home crowd and because it is a nationally televised football game on ESPN. Their quarterback depth is impressive, and you can make the case that both Clausen and Palmer are just as good right now as Henne and Bortles. Add in the overall organizational depth, and three points seems short for this encounter. Roll with the Bears on Thursday Night Football.
PICK = Bears -3 (-110)