From Thanksgiving on, Roger Goodell surrenders his office as NFL Commissioner to Old Man Winter in Northeast and Midwestern cities. Cold weather adds a harsh, challenging element to football missing before the holidays, under domes and in southern climes.
Has your luck run cold?
CharliesSports’ Expert NFL Betting Picks will heat up the action.
Subscribe now, benefit all the way through the Super Bowl in Hotlanta!
I’ve lived in South Florida for the past three decades but still get the sniffles watching a late-season telecast from the “frozen tundra” at Lambeau Field. Carbon dioxide billowing from nostrils and mouths as lineman face each other on the line of scrimmage. The quarterback barking out the equivalent of smoke signals over their heads. You can almost feel the cold even if you’re watching the game poolside. Only football brings you the steaming scalps of 300 lb not so woolly mammoths removing their helmets on the bench after an 11-minute drive. If shoveling snow wasn’t the trade-off, I might still be up north.
The Los Angeles Rams put their NFL-best 11-1 mark on the line at Soldier Field in that unfamiliar, unfriendly environment tonight. If the Rams can acclimate to the Lake Effect, they’ll be in the post-season. With the pressure off, they can focus on securing home-field advantage throughout and resting players ahead of the postseason.
At 8-4, the NFC North-leading Chicago Bears can put themselves on the playoff’s doorstep by exploiting their experience with harsh conditions. Given favourable results elsewhere, they can even cross the threshold.
The Rams offensive scheme is perfect for cold-weather football. Let running back Todd Gurley pound the Bears front-seven into submission. The former Georgia Bulldog is no stranger to wintry conditions, having grown up in Baltimore.
That said, quarterback Jared Goff surely expects to test the Bears secondary. he can breach 4,000 yards in this game and the only injury worries for either side come at free safety for Chicago. Both starter Eddie Jackson and backup Deon Bush were held out of practice on Friday and listed as doubtful. Jackson is expected to play despite a bruised shin. Bush isn’t due to a hamstring.
Da Bears must rely on their defence to keep the Rams at bay. Second-year quarterback Mitch Trubisky lags 1,300 passing yards behind Goff although he’s produced 20 TDs and nine INTs to the Rams signal caller’s 27 and seven. While Gurley provides 70% of LA’s 1673 yards on the ground, Jordan Howard leads the way for Chicago with a meagre 612. That’s just 44% of their 1,385, with Trubisky abandoning the pocket to add another 363.
The LINE narrowed a half-point on Tuesday, leaving the Bears as +3 underdogs. The TOTAL sits at 51.
Surprisingly, the OVER is 6-1 in the Rams’ last seven December games. Less shocking, they’re 0-3-1 AGAINST THE SPREAD vs teams with winning records. LA is 2-6 ATS in their last eight.
Meanwhile, the OVER is 4-0 in Da Bears last quartet against plus-.500 teams and Chicago is 6-0-1 ATS at Soldier Field against winning teams.
With a narrow spread in this one, the OVER seems a safe play but the cold weather makes me frisky. Take Da Bears and the points.
Martin Palazzotto is a freelance writer and author of strange bOUnce, a collection of sport fiction.