Saints vs. Bears Odds & Picks: Bet On the Home Dog To Cover Sunday
Todd Kirkland/Getty Images. Pictured: Nick Foles, Anthony Miller
Saints vs. Bears Odds
After starting 1-2 on the season, Drew Brees and the New Orleans Saints have reeled off three straight wins. Now they hit the road to Soldier Field to take on the Chicago Bears, who are coming off a 24-10 loss to the Los Angeles Rams on Monday Night Football.
These two teams met last year, with Teddy Bridgewater leading the Saints to a 36-25 win, marking their fifth straight victory over the Bears. The teams meet again with the Saints favored.
The Bears have already defeated three out of the four NFC South teams in the Falcons, Buccaneers and Panthers. Can the Saints win their sixth straight against the Bears, or will the home team sweep the division?
New Orleans Saints
Despite their solid record and winning streak, the Saints have covered the spread just twice in 2020 and once in their last five games. As if the Bears weren’t already a tough test, the Saints are dealing with a bevy of injuries in their receiving corps.
Wide receivers Michael Thomas (high ankle sprain/hamstring), Emmanuel Sanders (COVID-19) and Marquez Callaway (ankle) will miss Sunday’s game. Callaway broke out last week without Thomas and Sanders to the tune of eight catches for 75 yards.
With a lack of deep threats and declining arm strength, Brees isn’t throwing the ball deep much anymore. He ranks last among qualified quarterbacks in intended air yards at 6.1. Still, Brees has found a way to keep getting the job done. He’s first in completion percentage (72.6 %) and eighth in ESPN’s Total QBR (80.2) while throwing for 269.7 yards per game, which ranks 12th.
This Saints offense is the furthest thing from explosive, ranking 28th with just 8% of their plays going for 20 or more yards, but they’re seventh in offensive efficiency and second in total success rate.
Alvin Kamara leads the team in both rushing and receiving yards, with 364 on the ground and 460 receiving on 46 receptions. With Kamara, Latavius Murray, Jared Cook and Tre’Quan Smith, the Saints have enough weapons to remain efficient, even if they aren’t explosive.
Along with not having an explosive offense, their defense does a solid job at keeping opposing teams in games. The Saints are tied for seventh in allowing the most points per game this season at 29.0, rank 29th in opposing third-down conversion percentage (50.6%) and they have the league’s worst red-zone defense, allowing touchdowns on 86.4% of possessions inside opponents 20-yard line. That red-zone rate is more than 5% above the second-worst and almost 10% above the third-worst.
The Saints are allowing 238.7 passing yards per game and a 111.6 rating to opposing quarterbacks. If there’s a positive for this Saints defense is that they’re fourth in rushing defense as they’re allowing just 3.5 yards per carry and 89.7 yards per game, ranking seventh in rushing success rate.
The 2020 Bears are one of the most offensively inept 5-2 teams we’ve ever seen in the NFL.
Hyperbole aside, the Bears rank towards the bottom in nearly every offensive metric — they’re averaging 19.7 points per game (27th in the NFL), 308 yards per game (29th) and 4.8 yards per play (30th). They rank 28th in total success rate and 26th in offensive efficiency, and are finding the end zone on just 42.3% of their red-zone trips and have a 35.1% success rate on third downs, which is 30th in the NFL.
Nick Foles threw for 261 yards and two interceptions with a 66.8 quarterback rating in last Monday night’s loss against the Rams. He now has at least one interception in all five of his appearances this season. Unfortunately for Foles, running back David Montgomery hasn’t done much to help take the pressure off Foles. Montgomery is averaging just 3.7 yards per carry and 50.4 yards per game.
The Bears got a huge piece of good news on Saturday, as it was revealed that wide receiver Allen Robinson cleared the concussion protocol and is expected to face the Saints. He leads Chicago in targets (70), receptions (44) and yards (544), and his presence should loom large against a struggling Saints pass defense. The Bears will be without center Cody Whitehair, who is out after suffering a calf injury against the Rams.
Head coach Matt Nagy’s play-calling ability has left a lot to be desired. Second-round rookie tight end Cole Kmet could be exactly the spark this offense needs to get on track. He has seen minimal playing time to this point but caught two passes for 45 yards on Monday night against the Rams. Along with Jimmy Graham, the Bears could stand to pass more out of 12 personnel with Kmet and Graham, as they have a 71% success rate passing out of that formation. The Bears elect to pass out of that formation just 53% of the time while running out of it 47% of the time to the tune of a 43% success rate and 3.4 yards per carry.
Seeing what the Raiders did earlier this season against the Saints, with tight end Darren Waller catching 12 passes for 105 yards and a touchdown, should serve as a blueprint for what this Bears offense can do against a New Orleans team that’s giving up a 55% success rate to opposing tight ends.
Although the Bears’ offense has struggled, their defense is allowing just 20 points per game, seventh in the NFL. They’re allowing opponents to find the end zone on a league-low 42.7% of their red-zone trips and are second in opponent’s third-down conversion rate at 31.7%. The Bears are also holding opposing quarterbacks to just a 78.1 quarterback rating (third-lowest in the NFL) and a 58.7% completion percentage (second-lowest).
Forecasts for Sunday’s game puts temperatures in the mid 30s with 22 mph winds that should impact the passing game.
The Saints’ struggles in cold weather have been well-documented. Brees has a 65.1% completion percentage and 91.8 quarterback rating when playing outdoors compared to a 69.9% and 104.8 when playing indoors. He also drops from 308.6 passing yards per game to 250.6. According to our BetLabs data, the Drew Brees and Sean Payton led Saints are 1-6-1 against the spread when the temperature is 40 degrees or lower.
Despite the ineptitude of the Bears’ offense, they’ve performed well when they’ve played against bottom-tier defenses. They scored 27 points against the Lions, 30 against the Falcons and 23 against the Panthers. The Saints are more talented on defense than these teams, but they’re still allowing 29 points per game.
Given the lack of deep threats on the Saints and Brees’ struggles in cold weather, the Bears should have a chance at staying inside the number and possibly getting the upset. Take the points and sprinkle a small percentage of your wager on the moneyline.
PICKS: Bears +4; Bears ML + 175