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July 26, 2014

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sports betting:

Week 15 NFL picks against the spread for the Sun’s handicapping contest

Green Bay favored to win NFC North crown in Chicago

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ASSOCIATED PRESS

Chicago Bears cornerback Tim Jennings (26) runs after intercepting against the Houston Texans in the first half an NFL football game in Chicago, Sunday, Nov. 11, 2012. At right is the Bears safety Major Wright (21).

Sun's NFL betting game of Week 15

Which side would you bet in Green Bay at Chicago?
Green Bay -3 — 84.9%
Chicago +3 — 15.1%

This poll is closed, see Full Results »

Note: This is not a scientific poll. The results reflect only the opinions of those who chose to participate.

An old rule of thumb in betting on college football is: When in doubt, bet on the underdog in a rivalry game.

Bettors rarely apply the same logic to the NFL. For the sake of their bankrolls, let’s hope they haven’t in the series between the archrival Green Bay Packers and Chicago Bears.

The favorite has rolled in recent years in the game pitting the two most storied NFC North franchises against each other, going 7-3 against the spread dating back to 2008. The underdog has only won outright once in the past 10 tries, coming when the Bears beat the Packers 20-17 at home as 3-point underdogs in 2010.

The Packers and Bears renew their long-running grudge match in Chicago with a game that kicks off at 10 a.m. Sunday. Sports books list the Packers as 3-point road favorites.

It was one of four games that two of the three prognosticators in the Sun’s NFL handicapping contest, which requires six bets per week, picked for Week 15. One took the points with the Bears (8-5 straight-up, 7-6 against the spread), while the other disagreed and sided with the Packers (9-4 straight-up, 7-6 against the spread).

Green Bay would clinch its second straight NFC North championship, and sixth since the divisions were realigned 11 years ago, with a victory. The Packers hold a tiebreaker with a better divisional record, which includes already beating the Bears 23-10 as a 5-point favorite at home the second week of the season.

When considering the customary three points that go in favor of a home team in the NFL, sports books’ power ratings have shifted in favor of Green Bay and against Chicago by one point since the first meeting. It’s no surprise considering the past five weeks, where the Bears have gone 1-4 both straight-up and against the spread as opposed to the Packers' 4-1 mark.

The Bears' defense was historically dominant in the first half of the year, according to Football Outsiders’ DVOA ratings. Although Chicago still ranks No. 1 overall in defense, it’s given up an uncharacteristic 20 points per game since the start of November.

Head to the injury report to find out why. Every key Chicago defender is banged up. Although perennial Pro Bowler Lance Briggs is expected to play with an injured hip against Green Bay, fellow linebacker and captain Brian Urlacher will miss his second straight game with a strained hamstring.

Cornerback Tim Jennings, who leads the NFL with eight interceptions, is listed as questionable with a dislocated shoulder. In addition to those three, five other defenders are on the injury report.

Green Bay has some of the same problems. Former Defensive Player of the Year Charles Woodson will miss his seventh straight game with a broken collarbone, but linebacker Clay Matthews will attempt to play for the first time since Week 9.

The Packers' defense has gotten by without them, ranking a reputable ninth in Football Outsiders’ ratings.

Overall, the discrepancy between the two teams appears less than sports books are making it when taking into account the whole season. Green Bay ranks as the fifth best team in the NFL, according to Football Outsiders, with Chicago at sixth.

Check below for all of the picks from this week’s contest. Games are listed in order of kickoff time.

 

Case Keefer

Record: 43-40-1 (5-1 last week)

Bears +3 vs. Packers

Jaguars +7 at Dolphins

Falcons -1.5 vs. Giants

Giants vs. Falcons under 51

Cardinals +6 vs. Lions

Panthers +3 at Chargers

 

Taylor Bern

Record: 41-40-3 (2-4 last week)

Vikings +2.5 at Rams

Falcons -1.5 vs. Giants

Colts +9 at Texans

Bills +5.5 vs. Seahawks

Cowboys +2 vs. Steelers

Broncos -3 at Ravens

 

Ray Brewer

Record: 41-42-1 (2-4 last week)

Packers -3 at Bears

Colts vs. Texans over 48

Bills +5.5 vs. Seahawks

Cardinals +6 vs. Lions

Panthers vs. Chargers over 45

49ers +5.5 at Patriots

Case Keefer can be reached at 948-2790 or [email protected]. Follow Case on Twitter at twitter.com/casekeefer.

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