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NFL Free Pick: Chicago Bears vs New Orleans Saints

Prediction Machine NFL Free Pick: Chicago Bears vs New Orleans Saints

Chicago Bears vs New Orleans Saints (NO -10.5, O/U 47)

Mitchell Trubisky will start his second career playoff game in the Superdome on Sunday against the Saints hoping for a better outcome than his first appearance, which culminated in the now-infamous double doink. He’ll square off with a defense that allowed just 18.2 points per game over its last nine games and finished fourth in the NFL with 5.0 yards allowed per play on the season.

Since Trubisky’s re-insertion as the starter in Week 12, the Bears have averaged over 30 points per game with the former second overall pick contributing 11 total touchdowns while coughing up seven turnovers.

Quarterbacking the home team will of course be Drew Brees, who essentially has a full season of playoff games under his belt and will add his 17th appearance to the list on Wild Card Weekend. Brees will almost certainly clear the 5,000-yard passing mark in his NFL postseason career (he’ll enter with 4,967) and leads an offense that has tallied 85 points in its last two games. The Saints are the clear betting favorites in this wild-card matchup, currently sitting as 10-point favorites over the visiting Bears.

Our NFL model agrees that Sean Payton’s squad deserves to be a large favorite in this one, projecting a final score of 27.6-15.6 in favor of the Saints. While we have a slight lean against the spread, our edge in this game really shows up when looking at the total. With 43.2 combined points projected and a total of 47, we have a solid edge on the UNDER in this matchup. Our model suggests a $117 wager on UNDER 47 for an average $100 bettor.

Prediction Machine’s NFL model is 214-170 ATS (55.7%) and 219-191 (53.4%) on O/Us for +35.79 units, or $3,579 of profit since the start of the 2019 season. Head over to predictionmachine.com/pricing and sign up to receive every NFL prediction.

Why will the total go UNDER?

  • Sunday’s game will be the only wild-card matchup in which both offenses finished outside the top 12 in yards per play this season. New Orleans landed 13th with 5.8 yards per play, while Chicago managed a paltry 5.1 yards, which ranked 27th.
  • Both defenses enter above league average in yards per play allowed, with New Orleans ranking fourth at 5.0 yards allowed per play and Chicago at 11th at 5.4 yards. The Saints defense has been suffocating in the second half of the season, surrendering just 18.2 points per game over its last nine. Both defenses rate out even better when looking at Football Outsiders’ defensive DVOA, where the Saints come in at No. 2 on the season and the Bears at No. 8.
  • Sean Payton and Matt Nagy both prefer to run slow-paced offenses in neutral-game scripts. According to Football Outsiders, the Bears and Saints rank 26th and 27th respectively in seconds per play in neutral situations, indicating this matchup should feature methodical drives from each team.

How to bet the spread in Bears vs Saints:

Prediction Machine’s NFL model projects a final score of 27.6-15.6 in favor of the Saints. With a 12.0-point margin of victory projected for New Orleans and the spread currently at 10 points, we have a mild edge on Drew Brees and the Saints. Our model suggests a $36 wager on NEW ORLEANS -10 for an average $100 bettor.

Need-to-know stats for Bears vs Saints:

  • 23-for-38, 211.3 yards, 0.98 TDs, 1.15 INTs - Despite leading the Bears to a 4-2 record and 30+ points per game in his final six starts of the season, Mitchell Trubisky didn’t completely silence his doubters. Trubisky averaged 7.1 yards per pass attempt (which would rank outside the top 20 of QBs this season) and produced 11 total touchdowns against seven turnovers. Our model is projecting him to struggle quite a bit in this wild-card matchup, projecting him to complete 60.5 percent of his passes for just over 200 yards while tossing more interceptions than touchdowns. His projected 5.56 yards per pass attempt should be a clear warning sign for Bears fans.
  • 18 rushes, 81.5 yards, 1.0 TDs, 6 catches, 58.0 yards, 0.44 TDs - Alvin Kamara has been the true engine of the Saints offense with Drew Brees and Michael Thomas both missing chunks of time. We’re projecting he’ll perform at his usual elite level coming off the COVID list, projecting him to get nearly 25 touches for over 125 total yards and at least one touchdown on Sunday. This projection may be a bit fragile considering Kamara won’t practice this week leading up to the game so there is a chance he is limited, but with the Saints’ season on the line, we expect Kamara to approach his typical touch count on Sunday.
  • 7 catches, 75.1 yards, 0.44 TDs - Michael Thomas has been activated off IR and is expected to be a full go on Sunday. Despite his limited field time shared with Drew Brees this season, we’re expecting this combo to perform at their historical levels and for Thomas to put together a nice stat line against the Bears. His median outcome in our thousands of simulations lands at seven catches for 75.1 yards and 0.44 touchdowns, so you can expect a typical high-volume, highly efficient performance from Thomas.