Today's Free Picks for
.14Posted at 12:30 PM EST. Odds subject to change.
Carolina/Chicago under 38 -107
8:15 PM EST. In year's past when perennial losers met in the middle of the regular season, we used to call it the "Toilet Bowl." This game has that type of feel. All we can do as NFL bettors and handicappers is attempt to find an angle in this type of situation. Although, let us be clear, we won't have a wager on tonight's game. Sometimes the best approach is no approach, and that's never more true than when you're betting in a market as sharp as the NFL. It's only exacerbated when betting on two bad teams.
Earlier this week, the Bears were as much as -4 home favorites. The biggest reason for that is because Justin Fields had a chance to return. Now that he is doubtful, this line sits at -3 at most books. The Bears' rookie replacement, Tyson Bagent, hasn't been all bad. In 14 quarters he's thrown a 67.3% completion percentage for 697 yards. He's also ran for 97 yards, showing no fear of tucking and scrambling when he needs to. His arm looks powerful and precise on most throws, but the kid has a little too much moxie at this point. He'll force passes downfield or in tight spots, and it's part of the reason why he's thrown 6 INTs through just over three games.
The Bears looked a little better on defense last week thanks to Montez Sweat. The 6'6" defensive end immediately made his presence felt against the Saints, and he was a big part of the reason why New Orleans ran for only 87 yards. Chicago's defense has played better the second half of the season, allowing just 17 ppg in their last five contests. They're also the best defense in the NFL against the run (3.3 opponent rush yards allowed). That leaves Carolina's offense solely on the shoulders of Bryce Young, and that hasn't exactly gone well recently.
After a solid win against the Texans in a battle of rookie QBs in Week 8, Young regressed and had arguably his worst game yet in Week 9. He left last Sunday with a QBR of 11.2 against the Colts, who are not a great pass defense, and he threw three bad interceptions. The Bears' pass defense is not good (30th in opponent completion percentage, 28th in opponent pass yards per game), but third year cornerback Jaylon Johnson has turned into a stud and Sweat adds some much-needed pressure from an otherwise ineffective Chicago defensive line. On the road and on a short week, it still won't be easy sledding for the former Alabama thrower. And he's obviously still working through his decision-making and confidence.
The Panthers have also improved their defensive effort since their bye-week. They only allowed 229 total yards to the Texans and 198 total yards to the Colts, two impressive outings, and they were particularly stout against the pass. Whether it's Fields or Bagent, the Panthers' defense has come to play for two weeks in a row and we imagine they'll bring it against a mistake-prone Bears' offense tonight, too. The total is predictably low for a reason, but it's probably still too high considering how ineffective these two offenses are. If we had to take a bet in this smelly affair, we would bet on ugly football, aka this game going under the total.
Carolina/Chicago under 38 -107 (Risking 2.14 units - To Win: 2.00)