The Houston Texans (0-1-1) visit the Chicago Bears (1-1) looking for their first win on Sunday.
The Texans have led in the fourth quarter of both games but failed to close either for a win. The Bears beat the 49ers in a monsoon before falling once again to Aaron Rodgers and the Packers.
The Texans are a 3-point underdog in Chicago at many of the top-rated sportsbooks. Can Lovie Smith get his first win with Houston back in his old stomping grounds in Chicago?
This game would defy all NFL odds if it was a shootout because these have been two of the worst offenses through two weeks with neither hitting 300 yards in any game.
Houston Texans vs. Chicago Bears
Sunday, September 25, 2022 – 01:00 PM EDT at Soldier Field
Are the Bears Afraid to Throw the Ball?
One of the reasons the under 40.5 points in this game feels like one of the safest bets in Week 3 is that Chicago appears afraid to throw the ball. The receiving corps is not great, but second-year quarterback Justin Fields has thrown 28 passes in two games despite taking 100% of the snaps.
You can excuse the Week 1 game against San Francisco because of the wet conditions, but the Bears were stuck on nine pass attempts with 2:28 to go against Green Bay despite trailing 27-10. Fields’ 11th pass was intercepted to end the game.
That is not how a modern NFL team handles a game they trailed for most of the night. Chicago is just the eighth team since 1970 to lose by more than seven points without throwing a dozen passes in an NFL game.
Worse, Chicago is the first team since the 1978 Packers to attempt fewer than 30 passes in the first two games of a season. The running game and scoring production have not been nearly good enough to justify this strategy.
Chicago’s 97 offensive snaps only lead Seattle (96) as the two teams under 100 snaps in 2022.
Chicago Bears Analysis
The Bears have gone three-and-out on 42.1% of drives this season, easily the highest rate in the league.
Wide receiver Darnell Mooney is a deep threat and had 1,055 yards in 2021. He had minus-4 receiving yards on Sunday night against Green Bay, and he has two catches for 4 yards in 2022.
The 2022 Bears are the third team in the last decade to not have 230 yards of offense in either of their first two games.
Those seasons did not go well for the 2019 Dolphins (Brian Flores’ rookie year) or 2018 Cardinals (head coach Steve Wilks and quarterback Josh Rosen dumped after one 3-13 season).
This looks more impotent than the time Lovie Smith had a rookie named Kyle Orton as his quarterback in 2005.
The Bears are supposed to be helping Fields develop as a passer, but the new coaching staff seems to have no trust in letting him do that.
With the way the Texans shut down the Colts for three quarters in Week 1 and forced Russell Wilson into a miserable start at home on Sunday, it is hard to see the Texans having a bad game on defense in this matchup.
Houston’s Offense Isn’t Much Better
The problem for Houston is that its offense isn’t much better than the Bears' right now. If this offense just had a little more punch to it, the Texans would be 2-0 right now behind second-year quarterback Davis Mills.
Mills had a better rookie season than Fields, and you can say he’s off to a better start in 2022, but not by much. Fields ranks 31st (next to last) in QBR at 23.9. Mills is 29th with a 30.0 QBR.
Mills has not been intercepted yet this season, but he is averaging a measly 5.6 yards per attempt, which would rank last in most NFL seasons.
Rushing Yards Are a Flaw
Throw in a running game that is only getting 3.4 yards per carry, and you have an offense that is averaging a league-worst 4.2 yards per play.
Both teams have allowed a lot of rushing yards already this season, but the Bears have allowed the most at 379 yards. Chicago lost Khali Mack and Akiem Hicks in the front seven this past offseason.
This may be a matchup for the Texans to get rookie back Dameon Pierce going. He has 102 yards on 26 carries so far.
Score Prediction and NFL Picks
The weather conditions helped the Bears steal a win from the 49ers in Week 1, but we saw the flaws show up against Green Bay on Sunday night.
The Texans are not lighting up the league either, but the defense is keeping the score down against much better quarterbacks than Fields.
In the Matt Nagy era (2018-21), the Bears were a solid 11-7 ATS as a home favorite. But that era is gone, and the start to the Matt Eberflus era is not encouraging.
Look for Lovie Smith to get his win in Chicago in a 16-13 style upset special for your Week 3 NFL picks.
NFL Pick: Texans ML (+135) at Bovada
*The line and/or odds on picks in this article might have moved since the content was commissioned. For updated line movements, visit BMR’s free betting odds product.