Bucs vs. Bears Odds, NFL Picks, Predictions: Can Chicago Cover This Double-Digit Spread?
Robin Alam/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images. Pictured: Bucs QB Tom Brady
|Time||4:25 p.m. ET|
Outside of their Week 3 loss to the Rams, there hasn’t been a Super Bowl hangover for the 5-1 Buccaneers, who will put their three-win streak on the line against the 3-3 Bears this Sunday.
The Bears have had the Bucs’ number in recent seasons, taking the last two matchups, including the 20-19 win on Thursday Night Football last season that turned Tom Brady into a meme after forgetting what down it was.
Nevertheless, it’s a new season, and Bears quarterback Justin Fields faces a daunting task in a game that oddsmakers have installed the hometown Buccaneers as double-digit favorites with a total of 47.
So where is the betting value for this matchup? Can the Bears keep this within the number? Or will the Buccaneers offense be too much?
Let’s analyze both sides and find out!
Click the arrow to expand injury reports
Bucs vs. Bears Injury Report
- WR Antonio Brown (ankle): Out
- TE Rob Gronkowski (ribs): Out
- LB Lavonte David (ankle): Out
- CB Richard Sherman (hamstring): Out
- DE Jason Pierre-Paul (shoulder/hand): Questionable
- TE O.J. Howard (ankle): Questionable
- DL Akiem Hicks (groin): Out
- DB Tashaun Gipson Sr. (hip): Out
- DL Bilal Nichols (knee): Questionable
- LB Khalil Mack (foot): Questionable
- WR Allen Robinson II (ankle): Questionable
- WR Jakeem Grant (ankle): Questionable
- LB Caleb Johnson (knee): Questionable
- TE J.P. Holtz (quad): Questionable
- DB Duke Shelley (ankle): Questionable
Bucs vs. Bears Matchup
|Bears Offense||DVOA Rank||Bucs Defense|
|Bears Defense||DVOA Rank||Bucs Offense|
|Football Outsiders’ DVOA measures efficiency by comparing a team’s success on every play to the league average based on situation and opponent.|
Bears Can’t Overcome Offensive Struggles To Keep This Close
The Bears are struggling offensively, scoring just 16.3 points per game, 30th among NFL teams. The transition from Andy Dalton to Fields hasn’t done much, either, as they’re averaging just 16 points per game since the change.
A big reason is their conversation play-calling, as they’ve called run plays on first down nearly 65% of the time. But despite running so much on first down, the Bears are just 13th in Early Down Rushing Success Rate with only 40.4% of run plays grading out as successful and 18th in Early Down Success rate, thus the Bears constantly find themselves behind the chains on third down.
You would think that would change against a Bucs defense that’s dominant against the run. If the Bears do elect to pass more, it would be to their benefit against a banged up Buccaneers secondary. However, in addition to being 31st in pass DVOA, they’re also 31st and Dropback Expected Points Added (EPA) and 28th in Dropback Success Rate (44.4%).
The biggest question is whether Fields can actually make enough plays in the passing game. Unfortunately for the Bears, he’s dead-last in EPA/play and Success Rate (39.2%) despite playing teams like the Lions and Packers, who are 25th and 19th, respectively, in pass defense DVOA.
It also doesn’t help that Fields is playing behind an offensive line that’s dead-last in adjusted sack rate (12.4%). Fields has been sacked 18 times (15% of his drop backs).
Given the conservative play calling and bad offensive line, it’s tough to imagine the Bears scoring enough to keep this game competitive.
While the Bears are solid defensively, it’s tough to imagine this unit slowing down Tom Brady and this Bucs offense. Although the Bears do lead the league in sacks with 21, they’re just 27th in pressure rate (21.6%). Making matters worse, they’re dealing with injuries on the defensive line, where three key players are questionable.
Bucs’ Potent Offense Shouldn’t Skip A Beat
Stopping Brady and this Buccaneers offense has been a tough task for any team not named the Los Angeles Rams.
Even at the age of 44, Brady is playing like an MVP candidate. He leads the NFL in passing yards (2,003) and has thrown the second-most touchdown passes (17) while ranking fourth in DVOA as well as top 10 in EPA/play and Success Rate. His play is why this offense is first in EPA/play and third in Success Rate (52.2%).
Even without Brown and Gronkowski, this offense is full of weapons, so I’m not expecting it to skip a beat.
Opposing offenses haven’t had success running against the Buccaneers: In addition to having the fifth-best rush defense DVOA, they’re first in Rushing Success Rate on first down, second in rushing EPA/play and third in total rushing success rate — hence why teams have stopped trying to run on them.
The Buccaneers are still banged up in the secondary, and they’ll also be missing Sherman this week. Fortunately, CB Antoine Winfield Jr. has cleared the concussion protocol so he’ll play on Sunday.
Given the injuries in the secondary, teams continue to pass 77% of the time against the Buccaneers, but it remains to be seen if Fields can capitalize.
Bucs vs. Bears Picks
This comes down to whether Fields and the Bears can find a way to generate enough offense to stay competitive. From my view, I just don’t see it.
There has been some correlation from pros betting the opening line of Bears +12.5 with the under at 48.5, and while it does make sense from a numbers perspective, it’s a tough sell for me from a football perspective.
I don’t see the Bears holding this Buccaneers offense to just 19 points again, as this Tampa Bay team is much more cohesive than the version we saw last season. With the Bears struggling offensively, the Bucs could cover this number if their offense puts up 24 to 28 points, which is very likely.
I image we’ll see a similar script as we did in the Bears’ loss to the Packers last week, in which the Bears defense keeps them in the game but their offense can’t make enough plays to keep up, and the Bucs offense eventually shuts the door in the second half.
Pick: Buccaneers -11.5 | Bet to: -12.5
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