NFL Picks: How To Bet the Buccaneers vs. Bears Spread & Total on Thursday Night Football
Todd Kirkland/Getty Images. Pictured: Nick Foles, Anthony Miller
The Bears host the Buccaneers on Thursday Night Football to kick off Week 5 of the NFL season.
Our staff breaks down how they’re betting this spread and total below.
NFL Picks for Buccaneers vs. Bears
Brandon Anderson: Buccaneers -3
Nick Foles was supposed to be the savior, some sort of panacea for all of Chicago’s offensive problems, but he didn’t provide many answers last week against Indianapolis. The Bears struggled to get anything going all game and had a measly three points on the board until late in the fourth quarter.
The Colts have an excellent defense, but so do the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The Bucs are especially strong up front in run defense — they’re second in Football Outsiders’ rush defense DVOA — and Chicago can’t run anyway, which means the Bears will have to rely on Foles to win games.
I don’t buy it.
Last week I wrote that Chicago was very overrated as a then 3-0 team and was due for a downfall, and nothing I saw in the loss to Indianapolis led me to believe otherwise.
The Bears do get a bit of injury luck here: The Bucs’ passing game should not be as dangerous without Chris Godwin (out) and O.J. Howard (IR), and Tom Brady has looked old at times. He’s thrown two pick sixes already, both on passes he just didn’t have the arm strength for.
If the Bears do win this one, it’ll be because they pressured Brady and forced the old man into mistakes.
If this game were a month later, the cold Chicago weather might have been enough to talk me into a cover here, but it will be in the 70s on Thursday. This could be one of those ugly Thursday night affairs with more defense than scoring, but I like the Bucs to come out on top.
I like this best at -3, but would otherwise play it up to -4.
Raheem Palmer: Under 44.5; 1H Under 22.5
Unless you’re a masochist, it’s impossible to bet an NFL under in 2020.
With an average of 51.7 points per game, the NFL is in the midst of a historic scoring season — well on pace to shatter the league scoring record of 46.8 by nearly five points per game. Unders are 26-36 (41.9%), and if you were to blindly bet overs through the first four weeks of the season, you’d be up +7.40 units.
Of course, we can’t expect overs to hit at a 58.1% clip forever — oddsmakers and the market will adjust, and eventually unders will start coming in. And what’s a better spot to bet an under than for a Thursday Night Football matchup between two teams on a short week?
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Chicago Bears are top 10 in both scoring defense, yards per play allowed and Football Outsiders’ defensive DVOA.
When you dig deeper into the numbers, it’s immediately evident that these teams are the cream of crop of NFL defenses.
The Buccaneers are first in early down success rate (34.4%) and EPA (-0.189), 10th in rushing success rate (46%), fourth in passing success rate (43%) and fourth in yards per play allowed (5.1). They’re also allowing just 2.7 yards per carry on the ground, which is first in the NFL. Meanwhile, the Bears are eighth in early down success rate (41.5%), fifth in run success rate (43%), sixth in passing success rate (44%) and eighth in yards per play allowed (5.2).
Neither one of these offenses is anything to write home about as the Buccaneers are 18th in yards per play (5.7) with a total offensive success rate ranked 16th (50%) while the Bears are 26th in yards per play (5.2) with a total offensive success rate ranked 24th (46%).
The Buccaneers also come into this matchup hamstrung by injuries on the offensive side of the ball as they’re missing Godwin, Justin Watson and LeSean McCoy, and could also be without Leonard Fournette (game-time decision), Mike Evans (questionable) and Scotty Miller (questionable).
The Bears have yet to prove they can deliver a consistent offense with either Foles or Mitchell Trubisky, and against a top-tier Buccaneers defense, I don’t see that changing.
Points will be at a premium here. Take the full-game under 44.5 and first-half under 22.5 — just keep in mind that 44 is a key number, so if it drops below that, this is a non-play.