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Oskeim’s Free Pick Winner: Green Bay Packers at Chicago Bears

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Picking against Green Bay in this heated rivalry does not come easily as Aaron Rodgers is 20-4 lifetime against the Bears, including 10-3 SU and ATS on the road.  The Packers have won nine of the last 10 meetings in this rivalry, covering the spread in seven of those instances. 

Rodgers has ten touchdown passes without a turnover in the past four meetings with Chicago, all of which were Geen Bay covers.  Let’s also note that the Packers have outperformed market expectations in each of their last four games entering today’s NFC North clash.

However, the scheduling dynamics are very favorable for Chicago.  Green Bay arrives off a 25-22 overtime win over Cincinnati and is playing its second straight road game.  The Packers are on the road for the third time in four weeks and are traveling for the fourth time in the opening six weeks of the season. 

Divisional road favorites under these circumstances are just 3-6 SU and ATS versus .600 or greater opponents since 1980.  Let’s also note that Chicago is a profitable 9-3 ATS as a home underdog of more than three points and 7-1 SU and ATS following back-to-back wins under head coach Matt Nagy.

Injuries have taken a toll on Green Bay’s defense as Pro Bowl cornerback Jaire Alexander (shoulder) and cornerback Kevin King (shoulder) are both out.  Alexander was the 9th-best cornerback in the league (out of 110 qualified CBs) according to Pro Football Focus (PFF) metrics, while King was the 59th-best. 

King and Alexander were the Packers’ opening-day starting cornerbacks, which leaves rookie first-rounder Eric Stokes as the only one of their top three corners available.  Stokes is the 73rd best cornerback per PFF and backup cornerback Isaac Yiadom is surrendering 1.75 yards per cover snap.

The Packers’ banged-up secondary will be challenged by Chicago wide receiver Allen Robinson (ankle), who is listed as questionable but sources say he’s expected to play today.  Chicago ranks 30th in scoring and last in offensive yards per play but I expect the Bears to keep the ball on the ground against a subpar Green Bay rush defense that has been 0.2 yards per rush play worse than average this season.  Quarterback Justin Fields demonstrated poise and mental fortitude in last week’s upset over Las Vegas and the rookie looks more comfortable each week he’s under center.

Chicago’s defense continues to improve each week and should have success slowing down a one-dimensional Green Bay attack that relies too heavily on Davante Adams.  Adams accounted for 60% of the Packers’ receiving yards and 50% of their first downs against Cincinnati last week and I expect Chicago to focus heavily on him in this game. Chicago’s win over the Raiders marked the fourth game in which the Bears have held a team to two touchdowns or less this season, going 3-1 in such games.

According to Football Outsiders, the Bears’ stop unit has put together back-to-back performances with a negative defensive DVOA for the first time this season. Last week’s win also marked the second time this season that Chicago’s defense has outperformed its offense to generate a positive total DVOA.

Green Bay will likely lean on its rushing attack behind Aaron Jones, who finished with 109 yards on 19 opportunities (rushing attempts plus targets) against the Bengals. Since 2019, Jones has averaged 18.8 opportunities and 98.5 total yards per game.  Fellow running back A.J. Dillon has garnered 28 total touches over the last two weeks and I expect head coach Matt LaFleur to continue that trend against a Chicago defense that ranks 4th in pass DVOA but 11th in rush DVOA. 

Green Bay and Chicago rank in the bottom seven in the NFL in pace, which will shorten the game and provide even greater value to the home underdog. I also like the UNDER in this game for many of the reasons set forth above plus all three of Fields starts have landed under the posted total.  Take the Bears plus the points as Oskeim’s Free Pick Winner for Sunday, October 17.