NFL Week 4 Thursday Night Football: Chicago Bears @ Green Bay Packers
Updated: Sep 9, 2020
Chicago Bears @ Green Bay Packers -7 -125 Lambeau Field, Green Bay, Wisconsin September 27, 2017, 5:25PM Pacific Our power rankings composite seeds the Packers at home as 11-12 point favorites over the Bears this week. Similarly, each of our computer simulation routines likewise expect the home cover, by a comfortable margin (the average forecast across our independent sim factors is Green Bay -10). In accordance with this full house signal, we are comfortable laying the touchdown and backing Aaron Rodgers and company (Bovada's line is 7.5, but we paid up for the hook, given the historical significance of 7). Consistent with our wager, we note that the Pack has decidedly handled the Bears in head-to-head action in recent years. Green Bay is 5-2 ATS in the last seven facing Chicago, and 4-2 versus the line in their last half dozen facing the Bears at Lambeau Field. And while Chicago is 2-1 ATS this season, the Bears have yet to cover on the road. This behavior seems more typical than not, as Chicago finished last season 2-6 ATS when traveling, and 2-5 against the betting line when receiving points on the road.
Conversely, while 1-1 so far this season, Green Bay is 7-3-1 ATS on their home field, and 6-3-1 from the position of home favorite since the start of the 2016 season.
Green Bay and Chicago have both struggled defending the pass this year (ranking 20th and 22nd, respectively, by DVOA). However, we see the Bears offense as less likely to expose the Packers vulnerability to the aerial attack than the other way around. Chicago ranks 28th in passing by DVOA through three weeks of action, and is expected finish the year with the 25th ranked overall offense. Further, the Bears reliance on the pass is only about average -- passing plays represent about 61% of Chicago's total plays called, versus the League norm of about 58%.
On the other hand, the Packers rank second by passing play percentage and 3rd by passing yard percentage this year, after also finishing the 2016 season in the top-10 in these categories. Thus, it appears highly likely that Aaron Rodgers will indeed try Chicago's secondary. That FootballOutsiders DAVE statistic expects Green Bay to ascend to the NFL's 5th best offense by the time the final curtain falls on the regular season implies the Packers will experience some success throwing the ball this year -- the Bears defense appears an ideal opponent for this task.
In our estimation, offense capacity will be the difference Thursday night. At present, the average NFL passer rating is about 90.4, up a tad from last season's 89.0 level. This statistic is currently 93.1 for Aaron Rodgers, versus 79.8 for Mike Glennon. Glennon mustered a standout year in Tampa Bay in 2016 as reflected by a passer rating of 125.4, but that effort was anomalous -- Glennon's body of work was sub-par in 2013, 2014 and so far this year (the 4th year QB played backup to Jameis Winston in 2015, and saw no action) Further, Glennon's gaudy 2016 passer rating was amassed over the course of a mere two games, too small a sample to yield meaningful takeaways.
Comparatively, Aaron Rodgers has ranked above-average since his third year in the League (as measured by passer rating relative to the NFL average). These observations lead us to expect disproportional productivity from the QB spot Thursday night, commensurate with the disparity in Rodgers' and Glennon's stats. Back the home team to cover.