The Chicago Bears are more than field goal underdogs heading into Monday Night Football against the Pittsburgh Steelers. And under Matt Nagy, this kind of spot hasn’t boded well for them.
As of Nov. 1, the Steelers are consensus 6.5-point favorites against the Bears. Chicago is coming off of a disappointing 33-22 loss to the 49ers, though on the plus side, rookie quarterback Justin Fields arguably played his best game as a pro.
Pittsburgh is 4-3, having won three games in a row. And although Ben Roethlisberger is showing his age, the Steelers’ defense is extremely talented.
Here are the best Bears lines at Illinois online sportsbooks, followed by a matchup preview.
Bears @ Steelers odds
Here are the Chicago vs. Pittsburgh odds at sportsbooks in Illinois:
Since the Bears hired Nagy, they are 2-17 straight up and 3-16 against the spread when they are more than a field goal underdog.
That will be the case on Monday night, and the defensive injuries are piling up for the Bears. Khalil Mack wasn’t able to go against the 49ers and Eddie Jackson left in the first minute of the game due to a hamstring injury.
The 49ers rolled to 467 yards of total offense on Sunday, and the Chicago defense let down the offense for a change. It appears that when Mack and Robert Quinn aren’t on the field together and at full strength, the Bears’ secondary gets exposed.
Chicago has let up 71 points over its last two contests. The defense is supposed to carry this team, and all trends are pointing downward on that side of the ball.
As previously mentioned, Fields looked very good against San Francisco. He made a few ‘wow’ plays, and accounted for 278 yards of offense and two touchdowns. If not for an interception on a desperate late heave, his stat line would have looked excellent.
Still, the Bears only scored 22 points, so it’s not as if Fields’ improved play is reason to think the offense can carry the load. The rookie has also struggled significantly on the road this season.
These are his stats in starts away from Soldier Field: 40-for-72 (55.6%), 363 yards, one touchdown, three interceptions. Fields is only averaging five yards per pass attempt in those starts.
Chicago unleashed Fields’ legs against the 49ers, and he ran for over 100 yards. The team would be wise to do the same against the Steelers, though they likely will be scheming against quarterback runs.
A look at the Steelers’ winning streak
Pittsburgh has beaten the Browns, Seahawks (without Russell Wilson) and Broncos by a combined 16 points in its last three games. The Steelers didn’t allow any of those teams to score more than 20 points.
The Steelers rank in the middle-of-the-pack in yards per play, but they are excellent at pressuring quarterbacks. They are fourth in sacks per game, and as we all know, the Bears give up their fair share of sacks.
Chicago gives up 3.8 sacks per game, the most in the NFL. Fields has struggled against the blitz this season, so expect Pittsburgh to dial up the pressure on Monday night.
The Steelers have long been a pass-heavy team, but during this winning streak, they are leaning more on rookie running back Najee Harris. Harris has carried the ball at least 23 times in each of his last three games, and while Pittsburgh isn’t scoring a ton of points, it is playing sound complementary football.
The Bears and Steelers are essentially trying to win the same way. Run the ball effectively, limit quarterback mishaps, dominate defensively.
The problem for Chicago? Pittsburgh is likely better at all three of those things at this stage, particularly the defense part. And without a renaissance defensive performance, it could be tough sledding for the Bears at Heinz Field.