NFC North: Week 9 Preview and Point Spreads

With the exception of Detroit’s comeback victory last weekend, the other three NFC North teams were a severe disappointment. The Vikings got blown out by the Buccaneers on Thursday night, the Bears narrowly avoided an embarrassing upset at home against the Carolina Panthers, and the Packers beat the Jaguars by less than double digits (yes, I consider that a disappointment). Besides Minnesota travelling to Seattle, the schedule remains pretty easy for the NFC North this week. Let’s take a look at the spreads.

Chicago Bears (-5) at Tennessee Titans, Sunday, 1:00 p.m. EST

This line definitely reflects the Bears’ lack of finishing power in some of the games they’ve played this year. They beat a dreadful Panthers team by one point, and the week before only beat the Lions 13-7. With the Bears, it all depends on if their defense can force turnovers and then score off those turnovers. Heading into the season, Mike Tice, the Bears’ offensive coordinator, loved to talk about how explosive his offense would be. And on paper, it should be: Matt Forte and Brandon Marshall are two of the best in the league at their position. However, the Bears simply have not been able to get it going offensively this year. They are 26th in the league in yardage and 30th in passing.

Instead, they have leaned heavily on their defense to score, which they have been doing at near-record rate – the defense is responsible for a stunning 41 of the team’s 185 total points. However, if the Bears are ever going to cure their offensive woes, it’s going to be against the Titans. Tennessee ranks 30th in total defense and 31st in scoring defense. Take the Bears at -5 here.

Arizona Cardinals (+10) at Green Bay Packers, Sunday, 1:00 p.m. EST

The Packers are coming off a somewhat flat performance against the Jacksonville Jaguars last weekend, but even “flat” for the Packers is pretty good: they still managed to win 24-15.

“It’s good to be on this side of an ugly win,” Rodgers said after that game. “The expectations were we were going to come out and maybe blow them out, but we didn’t start fast. We didn’t have enough juice early on and didn’t play well enough on offense to get that done.”

Arizona, meanwhile, after starting 4-0 have lost their last four games, and appear to have crashed to earth pretty hard. However, they have a tremendous defense, and have a tendency to stick around in games they don’t belong being in. I think they keep it close in Green Bay. Take the Cards and the points.

Detroit Lions (-6) at Jacksonville Jaguars, Sunday, 1:00 p.m. EST

If you have to watch even one minute of this game, I’m sorry. It could be an ugly one, especially with Maurice Jones-Drew still sidelined for the Jags. Still, the Jags hung with the Packers every step of the way last weekend, and Blaine Gabbert threw for a season-high 303 yards. The Lions are no great shakes on defense either, so it’s reasonable to expect the Jaguars to be able to move the ball even without their best offensive player. The Jags stink, but they have some semblance of pride. Take the Jaguars and the points at home.

Minnesota Vikings (+4) at Seattle Seahawks, Sunday, 4:05 p.m. EST

The Vikings were one of the NFL’s most surprising teams in the first half of the season, though they’re beginning to show signs of weakness. They only turned the ball over four times in the first four games, but have turned it over ten times – ten! – in the previous four games, seven of them being Christian Ponder interceptions. Things aren’t going to get any easier on the road against a stingy Seattle defense. Take the Seahawks at -4.

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