On Monday Night, I’ll have the unique opportunity to “enjoy” a matchup between my favorite teams from each conference, my lifelong favorite New England Patriots, and the Chicago Bears, my adopted hometown’s beloved team. The two teams both had a rough start to the year, but they’re trending in opposite directions; the Pats have absolutely stomped down on their past two opponents, winning the two games by a total score of 67-15. Meanwhile, the Bears have been playing some solid football at times, particularly in second halves, but have lost two heartbreakers in recent weeks. Let’s take a look at the odds and make some picks about who can get the upper hand in Foxboro on Monday.
Bears Vs. Patriots Betting Odds
The Patriots are favored by 8 or 9 points at home, depending on your sportsbook of choice. The points total is set at or around 40, which at first seems reasonable for two defense-first, offensively-challenged teams, but may be a bit easier to break than it appears.
Bears Vs. Patriots Prediction
Happy hour may be illegal in Massachusetts, but nonetheless, it’s been Zappy hour all across New England for the past few weeks, as backup QB Bailey Zappe has acquitted himself extremely well since taking over for an injured Brian Hoyer (who took over for an injured Mac Jones) late in a tough overtime loss in Green Bay. While the Pats incredibly find themselves as the only last-place .500 team in the NFL, their intended third-stringer is giving the Foxboro faithful plenty to be excited, or at least interested about over his first two career starts, as he’s posting a passer rating of 111.4 so far, including his relief efforts in Green Bay.
Bill Belichick, as he so often has, is getting some relatively impressive results out of a roster that some, including myself, thought might be destined for absolutely nothing this year other than a top draft pick. The offensive coaching staff- a bit of an enigma, and the subject of many offseason and early season jokes- also appears to be coming into their own a bit, posting a string of strong performances after some extremely upsetting play to start the season.
It’s been a bit of a different story in Chicago, although with a hint of similarity. The team hasn’t had success in the arena of wins and losses since squeaking out an epic opening day victory over the surely playoff-bound 49ers, but they have experienced flashes of hope at the quarterback position as well. After an absolutely dreadful start to the year, Justin Fields posted a passer rating of nearly 120 and a season-high (I know, it’s crazy) 208 yards in that matchup while also picking up some huge first downs with his legs. He was less efficient through the air against Washington, but managed to throw another touchdown and run for 88 yards.
It’s also worth noting that he led excellent drives in game-winning scenarios in both matchups, only to be thwarted by a fluky block in the back, and his own teammate’s slippery hands. He’s far from having a good year, but there’s reason to believe that Chicago’s signal caller is headed in the right direction under the new regime of Head Coach Matt Eberflus, and Luke Getsy calling the offense.
In terms of projecting this game, I’m definitely taking the Patriots on the spread; they’re decidedly on fire and the Bears are…not. But my thoughts on the over/under may surprise you- both teams have above-average yardage and scoring prevention, but they both have above-average turnovers, usually a fluky stat that does not project consistently.
PFF says New England has just the 20th best defense in the NFL, while they rank Chicago’s as 30th- surprising when you look at the surface-level numbers, but more understandable when you watch this team on Sundays (and most recently, weekdays). Meanwhile, PFF says the Pats offense is the fifth-best in the league this year, and in recent weeks, they’ve looked the part. I’m going to take the over in this one.
- The over is 7-1 in the past 8 games played at Gillette Stadium, and 7-3 in New England’s last 10 games overall
- The over has hit 5 of the past 6 times these two teams have met
- The Patriots are 8-2 against the spread in their past 10 games following a performance in which they covered, which they did handily last week against the Browns
Bears Injuries: Justin Fields (Q), Alex Leatherwood (Q)
Patriots Injuries: Mac Jones (Q), Damien Harris (Q), Christian Barmore (Q)
Check out the key matchups and mismatches for Bears Vs. Patriots below.
Patriots Rushing Offense vs. Bears Run Defense
The Zappe mini-era has been a lot of fun, but the bread and butter of this Patriots offense is still getting behind their stout offensive line, and picking up yards with an excellent running back combo, comprised of Damien Harris (when healthy) and Rhamondre Stevenson. Harris entered the year as the lead back, but Stevenson has hogged the spotlight since his teammate went down with a mild injury. Harris was supposedly a game-time decision last weekend before eventually not playing, so it’s likely that he’ll be available on Monday. Still, don’t bank on him playing much against a Bears team that may or not provide much resistance, regardless of who’s toting the rock; it could be a great opportunity to ease him back in without absorbing a ton of touches.
As for the Bears, they have struggled against the run, as they have in pretty much all pursuits this season (except for one, but we’ll get there in a moment). They allow 163 rushing yards per game, the fourth-worst figure in the league, and PFF does not think they’re any better. The team’s highest rated run defenders, as per the same source, are corners Jaylon Johnson and Kindle Vindor. Of course it’s great to see anybody playing well, but it’s a bit concerning how few actual front-seven players have taken the lead in stopping the rush. In that category, edge rusher Al-Quadin Muhammad has been the team’s best against the run, followed by inside linebacker Roquan Smith who has struggled by his own lofty standards. I’m not sure Chicago is capable of stopping New England’s rushing effort, but if they can’t, the Pats will simply control the ball on their home field and coast to a comfortable primetime win. The Bears will have to make life harder for them if they want to stick around this game.
Bears Rushing Offense vs. Patriots Run Defense
On the other side of the ball, we’ll be looking at the same matchup since the one thing the Bears have done with exceptional success this year is running the football. Due in part to the rushing ability of Fields on both passing snaps and designed rushes, as well as the solid 1-2 RB punch of David Montgomery and Khalil Herbert, the Bears have picked up the second-most rushing yards in the NFL this year, 172 per game so far.
They’ve done this without exceptional blocking, partially because a decent chunk of the yards are Fields going off-script and breaking out- the dynamic QB has accounted for about a quarter of the team’s rushing yards so far. Their top-rated run blocker among full time starters on the o-line has been tackle Braxton Jones, who has a respectable PFF grade of 73; it’s pretty significantly downhill from there for the Bears front line. Herbert leads the team in every major rushing category- yards with 403, average and longest carry, (6.4 and 64, respectively), and touchdowns with 3- he’s also not fumbled so far. In fact, neither has Montgomery, and Fields has 4 but all have been recovered by the Bears, and several have been just aborted snaps; the team has not lost a fumble on a rush yet this season.
They’ll be squaring up against a solid, if not outstanding Patriots run defense, as they’ve allowed 119 rushing yards per game which is just about league average. PFF thinks they’re just a bit worse than average, 19th overall in the NFL. Safety Kyle Dugger has been great coming up to stop the run, and Anfernee Jennings has been strong off the edge in limited time. The New England defense is, of course, anchored by Matthew Judon, who is supported by veterans like Deatrich Wise Jr. and Ja’Whaun Bentley at d-line and linebacker, respectively. The Pats don’t need to shut down the Bears run game entirely; they just have to provide enough resistance to make them rely on Fields’s arm, which could very well prove problematic, particularly in a hostile road environment like Foxboro.