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Just when it looked like the defending Super Bowl champion Baltimore Ravens (4-5, 1-4 away, 4-5 ATS) were down for the count, they beat the AFC North leading Cincinnati Bengals and pulled within a game of the lead. They will travel to face the Chicago Bears (5-4, 3-2 home, 2-6-1 ATS) at Soldier Field, a place where they have never won. The line on this game is 3 points with the Bears listed as the favorite at betonline.
The OVER/UNDER opened at 46.5 points and is as low as 45.5, depending on your sportsbook of choice. The total has gone UNDER in 5 of Baltimore's last 6 games when playing Chicago. Several opposing bad trends exist in this game, but some will naturally be broken. For example, Baltimore is 1-4 ATS in its last 5 games on the road and Chicago is 0-4-1 ATS in its last 5 games at home.
Injuries have beleaguered both of these teams. Chicago will play absent starting QB Jay Cutler (high ankle sprain) who will watch backup QB Josh McCown run the offense. Bears CB Charles Tillman (3 INTs) was placed on the Injured-Reserve list on Monday. He will be sorely missed in the secondary. Baltimore could see WR Brandon Stokley play for only the third time this year as he has been upgraded to questionable. DT Haloti Ngata left last week's game against the Bengals in the second half and is questionable for Sunday.
The biggest problem the Baltimore Ravens have is their inability to run the ball. For as great as Ray Rice (289 YDs, 2.5 AVG, 3 TDs) was a year ago on this team's run for the Super Bowl, he has been equally inept in 2013. He picked up just 30 yards on 18 carries last week and has had more than 50 yards in a game just once this season. That puts a lot of pressure on QB Joe Flacco (2,307 YDs, 12 TDs, 11 INTs) who isn't looking so great this year after inking a $120.6 million contract in the offseason. In his defense, he hasn't been given much help with the loss of key parts to the team in the offseason and the loss of Stokley to injury. A return by Stokley would be huge for the Ravens.
The defense on this team isn't what it once was, but it certainly isn't bad. They are 18th against the pass, giving up 239.7 YPG. They are stronger against the run as they rank 10th, allowing 102.6 YPG.
RB Matt Forte (691 YDs, 4.4 AVG, 7 TDs) has helped the Chicago Bears offense in a big way in 2013. The six year NFL veteran needs to have a big game in order to take some of the pressure from QB Josh McCown. In three games for the Bears this year, McCown has played very well and made few mistakes. Chicago needs him to keep that up if they want to defend Soldier Field and leave the field with a win. Lucky for McCown, he has great WRs to help him do that. Brandon Marshall (786 YDs, 8 TDs) will be a tough cover for Baltimore as will Alshon Jeffery (735 YDs, 3 TDs).
Chicago's defense has been bad in 2013. They are 23rd against the pass (249.8 YPG) and dead last at 31st (129.4 YPG) against the run.
We're going to side with the Bears here. Neither team has much to brag about this year. The Ravens haven't performed well on the road, losing 3 of their last 4, to the Browns, Steelers and Bills. Even without Cutler, this is a very winnable game for the Bears and one they need. Bears -3
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