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Saturday, November 5, 2011

Week 9 NFL Predictions: Monday Night Football Edition

For latest odds check out one of my trusted sportsbooks - 5 Dimes, Bodog or Intertops.

Chicago Bears vs Philadelphia Eagles: PHI -6.5
It didn't take long for the line to significantly move in this game.  I like it at a touchdown or less, but so much action came in on PHI that it crossed the 7 and now sits around -7.5 to -9.  If you want to buy the hook down to -7 you can do that, but if not I highly recommend them in a teaser.

This is the kind of game that I expect CHI's weaknesses to get fully exploited in.  Offensively, PHI hold an edge in both the passing and running game.  McCoy has officially put his name on the map of elite backs in the NFL and a large part of that is due to the threat of Mike Vick.  He keeps defenders honest on the backside because he could hold the ball and run for a first down at any point.  This alleviates a lot of pressure off the O-line on running downs and even when the defense is expecting run--they are having a hard time stopping McCoy.  Not many backs can make guys miss the way he can.  CHI has been average with their third down defense and red zone play this year, and below average on their D-line.  PHI is averaging 4 extra points from long drives per game than CHI and 10 more completed plays.  For those of you not familiar with those stats, let me tell you that is a lot.  The only way PHI lose this game is if they revert back to their earlier form and turn the ball over 3-4 times.  Andy Reid does a great job at righting the ship and winning in November, so relying on variance isn't a formula for success if you are a CHI fan.

On defense, PHI still rank near the bottom in their red zone defense, but they have made improvements over the last few weeks.  They rank near the top in third down defense and sacking the QB.  If there's one area that CHI fears, it's the pass rush.  Martz has done a good job at switching things up over the past couple weeks and they'll need to continue to rely heavily on the run game to have a chance to win.  The only problem is what are they going to do if they fall behind by a couple of scores?  This PHI team is designed to play with the lead and Cutler is in for a long, long night under the lights of prime-time if he's relied on to lead the comeback.  We all saw how much they struggled against the wide 9 technique against DET a few weeks back and it won't get any easier against a more formidable PHI D-line.  PHI is getting healthy at the right time and the D-line is going to tee-off on him knowing that they have pro-bowl cornerbacks behind them.

CHI continues to hold the edge in special teams and they'll need every yard they can get from Hester in the return game.  I'm not saying this will be a blowout, but if CHI fall behind I don't see them coming back.  Their game-plan won't be a secret to anyone--run the ball and hope Vick turns the ball over.  It's too bad for them this isn't week 4.  Prediction: Bank PHI -6.5. 
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