The Chicago Bears and Carolina Panthers meet this Sunday in Charlotte. Which of these teams – if any – belongs in our NFL picks for Week 6?
Chicago Bears vs. Carolina Panthers
Sunday, October 18, 2020 – 1:00 p.m. ET at Bank of America Stadium
We already know that bears are remorseless killing machines. The Chicago Bears? They have an impressive defense, a recent Super Bowl MVP at quarterback, and a shiny 4-1 SU and 3-2 ATS record. However, they’re not nearly as dangerous as their ursine cousins. They’re not even at the same level as the Carolina Panthers (3-2 SU and ATS), at least not on paper. So, of course, we’re putting Carolina in our Week 6 NFL picks. Right? Maybe?
The Panthers opened as 3-point home faves at Intertops before moving down to -1.5 at press time, but that still doesn’t give us much wiggle room to work with. How about that total: 44.5 points at Heritage, up to half a point since the open. That’s one of the lowest totals on this week’s NFL odds board. So of course we’re betting the Over. Right?
I See Mitch Trubisky’s In Chains
The projections suggest otherwise. Jeff Sagarin has the Bears and Panthers scoring 43.67 points, which seems reasonable – if the Bears are indeed what we think they are. More on that in a moment. Looking back at the spread, Sagarin projects Carolina at -1.79 using his Rating numbers, and the Bears at -0.21 using his eigenvector analysis, which appears to be weighted more heavily to recent results. This would reflect how much better Chicago is performing with Nick Foles under center instead of Mitchell Trubisky.
Here’s the thing: They’re not that much better. Not when you narrow it down to quarterback play, where Foles has played at worse than league-average. That’s according to the passing DVOA (Defense-adjusted Value Over Average) at Football Outsiders, where Foles ranks No. 25 among the 33 qualifying quarterbacks. Big Nick Energy is one spot ahead of Joe Burrow, and two ahead of Trubisky. Factor in the value of Trubisky’s scrambling and the gap narrows even further.
Cross Your Tease
Given these projections and these low margins for error, we can only recommend a fun-sized bet on either the spread or total. Beware of false binary choices, though: You could put this game in a 6-point teaser, for example, and move the Bears from +1.5 to +7.5, getting them across the magic numbers three and seven in the process. Or you could jack that total up to seven points to 51.5, crossing the magic number 51, and hammer the Under.
So many ways to bet – although we’d prefer Chicago +7.5 between those two teaser options. Anyway, if you’re going to stick with one of the three straight bets (spread, moneyline, total) for this matchup, take Carolina ATS for a small sum. Teddy Bridgewater is No. 12 overall in passing DVOA, right there between Drew Brees and Tom Brady. Their young defense isn’t so great, though, and it’ll be worse if OLB Brian Burns doesn’t make it out of concussion protocol in time for Sunday.
But hey, at least the Panthers have moved off the magic number three. Bet accordingly on the best betting sites, and may the prolate spheroid be with you.