TNF: Buccaneers-Bears Betting Preview, Picks, and Props
After last week’s dumpster fire matchup of the Broncos and Jets, we’re back to having a solid Thursday Night Football matchup as the Bears host Tampa Bay.
The 3-1 Tom Brady-led Buccaneers will travel to Soldier Field as 4.5 point favorites to take on the 3-1 Bears, fresh off a quarterback switch from Mitch Trubisky to Nick Foles.
Tom Brady has been on fire the last two weeks after finding his groove, tossing eight touchdowns, and just one interception.
Fantasy football being as popular as it is, I likely don’t need to inform you about Brady’s weapons: All-Pro wide receivers Mike Evans and Chris Godwin, as well an ancillary pass catcher in Scotty Miller, and tight ends OJ Howard, Cameron Brate, and Rob Gronkowski. Brady has featured them all, throwing five touchdowns last week to five different receivers against a stout Chargers defense.
It is worth noting, however, that the Bucs won’t be at full strength: Godwin is still injured, Howard is now out for the season, and Miller/Evans both were “DNP” for practice on Tuesday and are still a bit banged up, though both are expected to play.
The Bears defense will still have their hands full, trying to lock in on what pass-catching target to stop. The Bucs’ run game features heavy doses of Ronald Jones as both Leonard Fournette and LeSean McCoy are both currently injured, but the run game is obviously secondary in importance to their aerial attack in terms of what opponents look to stop.
The Bears made the switch to Nick Foles after Mitch Trubisky flamed out of their week 3 matchup with Atlanta. It has been a tale of two games with Foles: Their matchup with Indianapolis saw Foles throw for 249 yards with one touchdown and one interception in an uninspiring loss last week, but their Week 3 matchup with Atlanta saw Foles erupt for three touchdowns against one interception and 188 passing yards in just the second half of the game after taking over for Trubisky.
This should upgrade the outlook of wide receivers Allen Robinson and Anthony Miller immensely, in addition to the platoon of tight ends that play for Chicago. The running game lost a key piece in hybrid pass-catcher Tarik Cohen, so there will likely be heavy doses of their featured back, David Montgomery. This might be a moot point, however, as Todd Bowles’ defense was No. 1 in the NFL against rushing attacks last year and looks to be just as ferocious this year.
The Bucs boast a Pro Football Focus-ranked No. 5 offensive line, while the Bears clock in at No. 11. Both lines should give the respective quarterbacks a fair amount of time to throw.
Defensively, both teams bring front-seven linebacker/defensive line combinations that are amongst the leagues best that will have the aforementioned offensive lines earning their paychecks, but there’s a bit of a mismatch here in terms of who those defenses will be facing: The Bucs have scored 23, 31, 28, and 38 points, the last two scores being against the Broncos in Denver, and against a stout Chargers defense, both of which boast strong front sevens.
The Bears’ first three games were against bottom barrel defenses: Detroit (27 points scored), the Giants (17 points), and Atlanta (30 points). Last week they changed that for the Colts and put up 11 total points, eight of which were in garbage time. The Bucs defense is a lot closer in nature to the Colts than they are the former three. Their front four has Ndomakong Suh and Vita Vea who have been disruptive against any opposing rushing attempts, and they boast the best linebacker duo in the league in Devin White and Lavonte David, which should disrupt any passing attempts at the middle of the field for Foles or any second-level rushing attempts by Montgomery. Cornerback Jamel Dean has quietly been above-average, anchoring the secondary for them.
FanDuel currently has David Montgomery at 47.5 rushing yards (+100), and I like him to be held under the yardage. Two things are at work here. I just mentioned the personnel that anchors the Bucs run defense makes it difficult to establish a run game against them, to begin with. Second, game-script considerations make it possible that Chicago has to abandon the run to throw the ball more to catch up.
I believe the over 44.5 points is the play here as well as laying the 3.5 points with Tampa Bay. I think it is significantly more likely that the Bucs match their 30-point average (even without Godwin and Howard), and the Bears struggle to score more than once or twice early on and have a late garbage-time touchdown or field goal than this is likely to be a close game. The Bucs stylistically match up well with them, and Tom Brady has always played well under the lights. I like the Bucs to suffocate Foles and the passing game when they fail to gain any traction on the run game.
As I mentioned before, the Buccaneers offense has averaged 30 points a game, and two of the first three Thursday Night Football games have gone over the projected total by 10+ points (NYJ-DEN and CIN-CLE), with the only game not to go over being JAX-MIA, which finished at 44 points (three points below the projected total).
Another week for Nick Foles to get comfortable in the offense in a home game on short rest should mean that the team likely will shorten up the playbook for him to make his life easier that might open up the possibility for a touchdown or two prior to a garbage time one. I see this game ending 31-17.
The Bets: Over 44.5 points, Buccaneers -3.5, David Montgomery Under 47.5 Rushing Yards (+100)