A matchup between the 2-4 Bears and 3-3 Patriots caps off Week 7 in the NFL.
Throughout the NFL season, our VSiN experts will combine to give their best bets on every game.
Odds are from DraftKings (unless noted) as of Sunday night.
Chicago Bears at New England Patriots (-8, 40)
Monday, 8:15 p.m. ET
Wes Reynolds: There are some surprise teams in the NFL this season, but the Bears aren’t one of them. In other words, the Bears are who we thought they were.
They are 2-4 and rank 31st in Overall DVOA and 30th in Offense DVOA per Football Outsiders. Justin Fields ranks 32nd in both passer rating (72.7) and DYAR (Defense-adjusted Yards Above Replacement). The Bears have only thrown the ball 35% of the time (141 passes on 402 offensive plays), which seems impossible in the year 2022.
Meanwhile, Mac Jones returns for the Patriots for the first time since suffering a severe ankle sprain in Week 3. The news that Jones would start barely caused a ripple in the market as most books still have Patriots -8 (some 8.5s out there).
The Patriots could go run-heavy this week as the Bears, who rate 14th in Pass Defense DVOA, rank 27th by that run metric. Rhamondre Stevenson has rushed for a combined 237 yards in the last two games, but Damien Harris returns and that workload will likely be shared.
New England has scored 26, 24, 29 and 38 points in the past four games, ranking eighth in EPA (Expected Points Added) per play since Week 3. However, those scoring totals have come against lower-end defenses, with Detroit, Cleveland, Baltimore and Green Bay ranked 32nd, 30th, 29th and 27th in EPA allowed per play entering Week 7. The Bears defense is at least an upgrade, ranking 20th, and the windy conditions could also be an equalizer in Chicago’s favor.
Despite the Bears’ passing woes, they may be able to move the ball by Fields running and throwing on the run, basically playing “schoolyard ball,” and since the Patriots play a lot of man coverage (56%, fifth most in the league), they’re prone to struggle with scrambling quarterbacks.
Just two weeks ago, the Patriots were laying only 3 to the Lions and adjustments upward were rightfully made after wins over Detroit and at Cleveland, but this number seems overadjusted, even with the Bears’ struggles. The entire free world seems to have pending Patriots teasers, yet very few books have made the teaser protection move to New England -9, although it might come throughout the day. The lookahead line was Patriots -6 and the raw statistical numbers do not indicate that Chicago is the right side, but the market indicates an overreaction.
Pick: Bears + 8
Adam Burke: Prior to the Patriots-Browns game in Week 6, I wondered if Bill Belichick had maybe lost some of his magic. New England was struggling mightily on the defensive side and was going up against a Browns offense that had been productive. All the Patriots did was win 38-15, force four turnovers and hold Cleveland to 70 rushing yards.
This week, the Patriots defense is set up for another fine performance against the Bears. Justin Fields has a 4-5 TD-INT ratio with a completion percentage of just 54.8% and has been sacked 23 times through six games. New England’s pass defense ranks in the top 10 in several categories, including net yards per pass attempt, so it doesn’t look like the Bears have a chance at creating explosive plays on Monday night.
The Bears have actually played fairly well defensively, all things considered. Chicago has only allowed 5.4 yards per play and 1.9 points per drive. They’ve only allowed four passing touchdowns but have worn down against the run. That should play into the Patriots’ hands as they’ve been able to rack up at least 124 yards on the ground in four of their six games.
Running the ball takes time. About as much time as it takes Fields to get rid of the football. Everything in this game points toward an Under. Belichick will dial up the proper defensive scheme, especially with an extra day to prepare for Fields, and the Bears defense should be aided by the wind, which is expected to gust into the 30-mph range.
Pick: Under 40
Dave Tuley: I was hoping to be live to this game with my teaser on Colts + 8.5/Patriots -2, but the Colts lost by 9 points, 19-10, at the Titans on Sunday. We expect the Patriots to win comfortably against the Bears, though we prefer teasing down the -8 spread to -2 just in case. And we’re teasing the Under (we usually prefer teasing multiple games instead of same-game teasers, though it worked with our Saints + 8.5/Over 38 teaser on Thursday night), as we don’t expect the Bears’ No. 30 offense (and averaging just 15.5 points per game) to contribute too much to the total points.
Pick: Patriots -2/Under 46 Teaser