Patriots-Bears Betting Preview: Is New England a Good Bet as Small Favorite?
USA Today Sports. Pictured: Tom Brady, Khalil Mack
Betting odds: New England Patriots at Chicago Bears
- Spread: Patriots -3
- Over/Under: 49.5
- Time: 1 p.m. ET
- TV channel: CBS
>> All odds as of Friday morning. Download The Action Network App to get real-time NFL odds and track your bets
Betting market: Following the Patriots’ big win over the Chiefs, the public is back on the New England bandwagon as 74% of bets have come in on New England at the time of writing (see live betting data here).
Doesn’t help that the Bears lost to Brock Osweiler last weekend, either.
The Pats are having trouble getting off the key number of -3 and staying there, though, because sharps have taken the Bears plus the hook every time they’ve been given the chance so far.
There have been five separate reverse line moves on Chicago +3.5 so far and I imagine we’ll see more if the opportunity presents itself. —Mark Gallant
Trends to know: Chicago was a popular play in Week 6 but let down bettors, losing to Miami as a 7.5-point favorite.
As Mark mentioned above, gamblers are fading the Bears in Week 7, but this could be a bad spot. Since 2003, home underdogs getting fewer than 25% of spread tickets have gone 208-174-11 (55%) against the spread. — John Ewing
The Patriots and Tom Brady have been home in Foxborough, Mass., the past three weeks and now head on the road to Soldier Field to face the Bears.
Brady has played just 12 career games (including postseason) in which the Pats were coming off three consecutive home games. In those 12 games the Pats have a 9-3 record straight up but are just 4-8 ATS. — Evan Abrams
Did you know? It’s not often we see a “good” Bears team listed as a home underdog at Soldier Field. The Bears have only been home dogs when they are better than .500 nine times since 2003.
Chicago is 3-6 SU and ATS in this spot. That includes a 36-7 loss to the Patriots in Week 14 of 2010. — Evan Abrams
Biggest mismatch: Chicago’s strengths vs. New England’s strengths
What is the formula to beating New England? I think there are five primary keys — two on offense and three on defense.
- Control the ball
- Execute in the red zone
You saw the Lions perfect the first key on Monday Night Football in Week 3. Head coach Matt Patricia knew the best way to beat the Patriots was to keep Brady off the field.
Well, the Bears rank fourth overall in average time of possession percentage at 54.19% and fifth in third-down conversion percentage at 46.03%. They can keep the chains moving and win the TOP battle against a New England defense that ranks 27th overall on third down (44%).
Regardless of how many yards the Patriots give up, they will generally end up at the top of the league in red zone-defense. They will force you to settle for 3s at a higher clip while Brady & Co. get 6s. That is no different this season, as the Pats are scoring red-zone TDs 68% of the time, while holding opponents to TDs 50% of the time.
Good news for the Bears: Not only is their defense holding opponents to a 50% TD rate inside the 20, but Mitchell Trubisky has been tremendous in the red zone this season. Just take a look at his stats:
- Inside 20-yard line-: 18-29 (60%) 9 TD, 1 INT
- Inside 10-yard line: 9-15 (60%) 6 TD, 0 INT
And you can’t just key in on one target as six different players have caught a red-zone TD and none more than two.
For comparison, Trubisky’s red-zone numbers are almost identical to Tom Brady’s:
- Inside 20-yard line: 17-30 (53.3%) 9 TD 0 INT
- Inside 10-yard line: 8-13 (57.1%) 6 TD 0 INT
- Must pressure and hit Brady
- Must have viable cover guys in the secondary
- Must get a few takeaways
Coming into this season, the Patriots had covered a ridiculous 67.2% (90-43-2) of their games when Tom Brady was sacked no more than once.
For the #Jaguars to cover they need to punch Brady in the mouth
— John Ewing (@johnewing) January 21, 2018
Additionally, since Week 3 of the 2001 season, NE is 156-9 SU and 129-36 ATS when winning the turnover battle. When it doesn’t? Try 45-44 SU and 26-59-4 ATS.
The correlation is there and it makes sense. If you can pressure Brady while effectively covering his outlets in close man-to-man and getting a turnover or two, you can stop the Patriots offense.
Not many teams can do all three, but the Bears’ No. 1-ranked defense in DVOA is one of the few with the personnel to do so.
Chicago’s 2.8 takeaways per game leads the NFL, its 3.6 sacks per game ranks third in the league and its D-line has the third-highest Adjusted Sack Rate.
You know Vic Fangio will bring the pressure, which is the only way you can try to stop Brady.
Per Football Outsiders, the Bears have the NFL’s No. 1 DVOA pass defense. They have the corner depth and overall team speed in the back end to hang with the Patriots. — Stuckey
Which team is healthier? Patriots
The Patriots regularly list half their depth chart on the injury report. Everyone except right tackle Marcus Cannon (head) is tentatively expected to suit up.
The Bears have much more serious concerns, as Allen Robinson (groin) and Khalil Mack (ankle) failed to practice Thursday. No. 1 cornerback Prince Amukamara (hamstring) and left guard Eric Kush (neck) aren’t guaranteed to play, either.
DFS edge: Robinson racked up 21 targets over the first two weeks of the season, but he has largely worked as the offense’s No. 3 pass-game option during their past three games.
Taylor Gabriel (22 targets) and Tarik Cohen (20) have been fed more than A-Rob (17) in that span, and tight end Trey Burton (13) hasn’t been far behind. Up next is a difficult shadow date with Stephon Gilmore, who joins Lions cornerback Darius Slay and Jaguars stud corner Jalen Ramsey as the only shadow corners who have somewhat regularly chased their opposing receiver into the slot.
Any exposure to Robinson should be on FanDuel, where his $6,500 price tag comes with a 94% Bargain Rating. — Ian Hartitz
Bet to watch: Bears +3
Don’t read too much into the Bears’ loss in Miami. They were clearly not focused in the Miami heat coming off a bye week and facing Dolphins backup QB Brock Osweiler.
Need proof? Look no further than the missed tackles. Chicago missed 19 of them, per PFF. They only missed 15 TOTAL in the first four games of the season. This is a top-three defense that should come out inspired vs. the Patriots, who have actually looked human.
I personally played the Bears +3.5 and the Under 49.5 on the app earlier in the week. I think the Bears control the clock and grind out a huge win at Soldier Field.
Another positive for the under: these are two of the least penalized teams in the NFL. Patriots average a league-low 4.3 penalties per game, while the Bears average the fourth-fewest at 5.8. Don’t expect many drives to continue as a result of undisciplined mistakes. — Stuckey
Editor’s note: The opinions on this game are from the individual writers and are based on their research, analysis and perspective. They are independent of, and may not always match with, the algorithm-driven Best Bets from Sports Insights.