Oakland Raiders vs. Chicago Bears highlights a week where we are very wary of picking underdogs. So, we go to two seemingly evenly-matched teams that were not on our radar this season. Both, especially the Oakland Raiders, are having better than expected seasons. Since they are matched up in pivotal games for each of them, we figured it is time to look into the numbers. From there, project just how serious a threat they are come playoff time.
If they lose and the Denver Broncos win today, the Raiders will find themselves in a tie with the Broncos for the AFC West lead. This loss could also put their playoffs hope in jeopardy as the AFC second tier of playoff teams is crowded, with 5 other teams trying to secure 2 slots.
The Raiders need this win to convince many, including themselves, that they truly belong atop their division. A loss today could be the start of a four-game losing streak, or they can hold pace and finish by splitting their remaining 6 games for a 10-6 record.
Ironically the Raiders are facing what I see as their NFC counterpart, a team that has benefitted from a major slide by the Detroit Lions. This has allowed the Bears to climb into second place in the NFC North, behind the undefeated Green Bay Packers. But, unlike the Raiders, the remainder of the Bears schedule is relatively weak. A win today and they can easily win 4 of the 5 other remaining games, to finish the season at 12-4.
Besides benefitting from weak schedules, what are the Bears and Raiders doing correctly? They both put up lots of points and have enough strength in both the running and passing game. They do not rank highly in any individual category, with Oakland being the better statistical team, specifically in rushing (4.9 vs. 4.3 yards per rush; and 5.5 more rushes per game).
Defensively, they’re even with the Bears being a run-stopping, low-scoring defense, while the Raiders are a bend but don’t break model.
NFL PICKS Week 12
Raiders (-3) Over (41) – Though not a highlight of our analysis, the absence of Bears QuarterBack Jay Cutler will be the deciding factor because the Raiders will now be able place more emphasis on stopping the run.
11/27 4:05 ET At Oakland -3 Chicago 41
http://www.footballlocks.com/nfl_lines.shtml @11/27/11 @ 2:00pm