Monday Night Football features the Chicago Bears on the road against the Pittsburgh Steelers to finish up what has been an exciting Week 9 in the NFL.
Our team of experts at VSiN has the game covered from all angles, with a market report from South Point oddsmaker Chris Andrews, along with picks on the game from VSiN's Dave Tuley, Adam Burke and Ben Brown from Pro Football Focus.
Chicago Bears at Pittsburgh Steelers (-7, 39)
Market report from Chris Andrews: Surprisingly little betting interest so far. You can’t walk 10 feet in the South Point without running into somebody from either Chicago or Pittsburgh. Public doesn’t seem to trust either side at this price. Took one sharp Under bet at my opening total of 40. Moved straight to 39. With a line stuck at 6.5 for this long, we can assume sharps would jump hard on Chicago %plussign% 7 if the public decided to bet the favorite on game day.
Tuley: I didn’t have a play in this game when we were putting Point Spread Weekly together last week and haven’t made a pick on it anywhere, but the more I’ve thought about it over the weekend, the more I love the Under.
We missed the Under 40 that was available last week, but that’s OK. This is the lowest total of Week 9, but sometimes oddsmakers can’t make a total low enough. Justin Fields is improving for the Bears, but they’re still No. 32 in total offense, last in the league at just 264 yards per game, and average just 15.4 points per game. Now, they face the Steelers’ tough defense. When they’ve faced other top defenses, they’ve scored six points vs. the Browns and three points vs. the Buccaneers, so I’m not expecting Fields to have his breakout game on Monday night.
Meanwhile, the Steelers’ offense isn’t any great shakes either at No. 24 in yards per game and averaging just 18.9 points per game.
I have this as around a 17-13 or 20-16 victory for Pittsburgh. I wouldn’t talk anyone out of taking the Bears %plussign% 7 in a relatively low-scoring, defensive battle (by today’s NFL standards), but I see the Under as the stronger play.
Pick: Under 39
Burke: Underdogs barked loudly on Sunday, so we’ll see if that gets bettors to buy in with the Bears. Because Pittsburgh has won three in a row and the Bears have lost three in a row, these two teams are going in opposite directions in the court of public opinion. It seems like sharp bettors prefer the Steelers here as well, given that the line has gone up, despite the low-scoring expectation.
With a total this low and points at a premium, the Bears just have to be the pick for me. The Pittsburgh offense has only scored on one-third of its offensive possessions. That makes it really hard to get margin on anybody, let alone a Bears team with a better defense than the numbers would suggest so far.
Fields is mobile enough to evade the rush and it is possible to run a little bit on the Steelers. The one thing that the Bears do pretty well on defense is get to the quarterback and no QB in the league can hold a candle to Ben Roethlisberger in terms of not being able to move around the pocket.
This looks like an extremely ugly game, but now that we’re up to the key number of 7, it is definitely Bears or nothing for me.
Pick: Bears %plussign% 7
Brown: Fading Cole Kmet here has as much to do with Kmet’s track record of production as it does with Fields’ struggles and the Steelers’ defense. Fields has a putrid 76.5 QB rating when targeting Kmet this season, lower than both Jesse James and Jesper Horsted. Not great.
As for this specific matchup, the Steelers rank 15th in coverage grade versus tight ends this season, and 10th since Week 4, making this a tough matchup for a tight end of Kmet’s caliber. Kmet’s 60.7 receiving grade ranks 50th among tight ends this season, and he’s only covered this number in four of eight games this season.
PFF’s Player Props Tool gives Kmet a 57.3 percent chance to catch two or fewer passes, representing positive expected value at %plussign% 111 odds.
Pick: Kmet Under 2.5 Receptions (%plussign% 111)