Buccaneers vs. Bears Odds & Pick: How To Bet the Thursday Night Football Total
Getty Images. Pictured: Tom Brady, Khalil Mack
Buccaneers vs. Bears Odds
The Buccaneers have a cluster of injuries on offense (in order of importance): Chris Godwin, Leonard Fournette, O.J. Howard and Justin Watson are all expected to miss while Mike Evans and Scotty Miller are banged up but expected to play. That means the Bucs are likely to operate a very vanilla offense on the short week, leaning on the run game and their stout defense to put away the Bears.
I would typically have the Bucs favored by 5.5-6 points in this matchup. However, with the cluster of injuries altering their game plan, I’m in line with the 3- to 3.5-point spread.
If Evans (questionable) ends up missing the game, this line could fall to -3 across the market, or even down to -2.5. His availability will be responsible for the majority of any line movement between now and kickoff — he’s critical for the Bucs offense with Godwin already ruled out.
Instead of attacking the spread, I’m focusing on the total.
Bears head coach Matt Nagy told local media earlier this week, “We have to be able to run the football. We can’t be one dimensional.” Well, after he made a similar statement last season, the Bears ran the ball a season-high 38 times in their next game, but I’m not sure that will be a successful approach against the Bucs with run-stuffers Ndamukong Suh and Vita Vea in the middle of this elite defensive line — the Bucs have an elite defense overall that ranks second and fourth in Football Outsiders’ DVOA against the run and the pass, respectively.
It takes some courage to bet unders this season as they’ve gone 26-32 (41%) through four weeks.
A big reason for that is the market has caught up with the increased scoring of 2020. The median score has been 49 so far, and my median total for Week 5 is 49.5 — that’s directly right in-line with the market’s median total, so it’s fair to say I’m at least comparing apples to apples with totals (and not overlooking the increase in scoring to date).
All that said, my projected total for this game is 43 — the lowest of the week — because both teams are likely to play in a lower-scoring environment tonight. Forty-three to 47 are all key numbers when it comes to betting totals, so it’s worth waiting to see if this line is pushed up to 45 or 45.5 before locking in a bet.
If Evans is ruled out before kickoff, I would have this total projected closer to 42 or 42.5, therefore that news would trigger a larger bet for me if this line is still 44.5 or higher.
PICK: Under 44.5