Despite owning identical records, one team is tied for the lead while the other resides in the basement in their respective divisions. The New Orleans Saints look to maintain at least a share of the top spot in the NFC South when they visit the NFC North cellar-dwelling Chicago Bears on Monday night. New Orleans enters Week 15 tied with Atlanta atop their division even though last Sunday’s 41-10 loss to Carolina was its fourth defeat in five games, with all four losses coming at home.
Notoriously bad on the road, the Saints have won their last two games away from the Superdome – including a 35-32 triumph at Pittsburgh in Week 13. Chicago, which has rushed for a total of 48 yards in its last two games, has dropped four of its last six contests – allowing at least 34 points in each setback. The latest defeat, a 41-28 decision against Dallas, halted the Bears’ two-game home winning streak.
TV: 8:30 p.m. ET, ESPN.
LINE HISTORY: Most shops opened the Bears as 3-point home dogs, though some had +2.5. The total opened at 54.
INJURY REPORT: Saints – LB David Hawthorne (Probable, hip), DE Akiem Hicks (Probable, ankle), LB Junior Galette (Questionable, knee), WR Robert Meachem (Questionable, ankle). Bears – DT Jeremiah Ratliff (Questionable, knee), S Chris Conte (Questionable, back), K Robbie Gould (Questionable, quad).
WEATHER: Temperatures in the mid-40s with wind blowing toward the N endzone at 12 mph and a 66 percent chance of rain.
COVERS POWER RANKINGS: Saints (+2.25) + Bears (+3.0) + home field (-3.0) = Bears +2.25
WHAT CAPPERS SAY: “The Saints have lost four straight home games but are still tied with Atlanta for first in the NFC South. Head to Chicago where they are 5-2 ATS L7 Monday nights. The disappointing Bears season is now done and host the Saints in the second of three straight home games. 3-12-1 ATS L16 after allowing 350 or more yards.” Covers Expert Matt Fargo.
CHEERLEADER WAR: The Bears don’t have cheerleaders, so here’s a double-dose of the Saints’ squad.
ABOUT THE SAINTS (5-8 SU, 5-8 ATS, 10-3 O/U): New Orleans’ defense has played a major role in the team’s struggles this season, ranking 31st in yards allowed per game at 398.7. The club has yielded at least 27 points and an average of 183.8 rushing yards in its last five contests. Coach Sean Payton was particularly critical of the unit after the loss to Carolina. “Our tackling was awful. (The Panthers) were almost near 300 yards rushing. It was awful,” he said. “On top of that, you can’t make dumb mistakes like jump offside when a team is getting ready to punt or kick a field goal.”
ABOUT THE BEARS (5-8 SU, 5-8 ATS, 8-5 O/U): After allowing 50-plus points in back-to-back losses at New England and Green Bay, the Bears appeared to right the ship, yielding 13 in home victories over Minnesota and Tampa Bay. But Chicago’s defense went back to being porous as it yielded a total of 75 points in setbacks against Detroit and Dallas. Injuries to regulars have been a factor, forcing several rookies into extended action, but defensive end Jared Allen refuses to use that as an excuse. “You’re in the NFL. By the time I got to the NFL, I’d been playing football every year since I was eight,” he said. “That’s a lot of years of football. They’re young for the NFL, but it’s still football.”
* Over is 5-1 in the last six meetings in Chicago.
* Saints are 5-2-2 ATS in their last nine meetings.
* Bears are 1-7 ATS in their last eight games following a double-digit loss at home.
* Over is 6-1 in Saints last seven vs. NFC.
COVERS CONSENSUS: According to Covers Consensus, 60 percent of bettors are backing the Saints.