VSiN’s NFL expert handicaps four games on Sunday’s card.
Arizona Cardinals (-7.5, 43) at Chicago Bears
Kyler Murray could return for the Cardinals this week, but if so, the NFL MVP hopeful will be returning to suboptimal conditions. Rust has been a factor for several quarterbacks off of byes and for others, such as Aaron Rodgers and Russell Wilson, off injuries or COVID. Rust could be a huge factor for Murray, along with the fact that temperatures are expected to be in the low 40s with rain and wind at Soldier Field.
The forecast looks pretty bad for a dome team heading outdoors to the Windy City in December. Add Murray coming off an injury (or backup Colt McCoy, if Murray can’t go), and it sure looks as if the Cardinals’ offense could be kept in check during this one.
Arizona boasts a top-five defense by DVOA and ranks sixth in yards per play allowed. The Bears are 29th in yards per play on offense. One of the best attributes for rookie QB Justin Fields is his accuracy on downfield throws, but this won’t be the kind of day for throwing downfield — if he even plays.
Burke’s pick: Under 43
Indianapolis Colts (-10, 44.5) at Houston Texans
This is a big number for the Colts to cover, but the Texans look like the worst team in the AFC and probably the second-worst team in football behind the Lions. Indianapolis lost a heartbreaker to the Buccaneers last week, but five turnovers were the deciding factor in that game. It was a continuation of the robust offense that we’ve seen the past few weeks from Indianapolis, but there also was too big of a helping of Carson Wentz mistakes.
Up until Thanksgiving, Indianapolis had just 10 turnovers in 11 games. There is a strong narrative out there about Wentz and all the interceptions, but the reality is that the Colts were taking good care of the ball until that outlier performance. Coaches and players can psych themselves out a little bit in big games and get away from what works. That may have happened to Frank Reich and his team against Dallas.
This week, the Colts can get back to doing what they do well. The beauty of a dominant rushing attack is that the Colts can play from ahead, stay ahead and even add on. Houston’s paltry offense shouldn’t score enough to cover, even with the big number.
Burke’s pick: Colts -10
Philadelphia Eagles (-6.5, 45) at New York Jets
The Eagles are a one-dimensional team right now because Jalen Hurts can’t throw a forward pass with any kind of efficiency. Philadelphia has, however, become very adept at running the football and had been able to ride that into playoff contention with wins in three of four games prior to last week’s setback against the Giants.
The Jets are a really methodical offense. This is a team that tries to shorten the game to protect its shortcomings all over the field, which isn’t a bad strategy. What it should lead to in this game is the under.
Burke’s pick: Under 45
San Francisco 49ers (-3.5, 45.5) at Seattle Seahawks
These are two defenses that don’t force turnovers. The 49ers have just 11 takeaways in 11 games, and the Seahawks have 10 in 11 games. Seattle has just seven turnovers on offense and the 49ers have 15. Both offenses rank in the top five of red zone efficiency, and the 49ers actually lead the league with a TD percentage of 77.4 percent. Seattle’s defense is fourth in red zone efficiency, but San Francisco’s is 20th.
Points could be in the forecast here.
Burke’s pick: Over 45.5