It’s time for a matchup between two of the NFL’s most exciting young passers – Justin Herbert and Tyson Bagent, the undrafted rookie who owns the all-time college football record for touchdown passes, and now a 1-0 NFL record. With plenty of stars on both sides, such as wideouts Keenan Allen and D.J. Moore, let’s check out some Bears vs. Chargers player props.
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Both teams should be primed to go to the air against some very questionable pass defenses, but will Bagent be able to keep up with the more seasoned and highly talented Herbert? Let’s see how this one might unfold.
Justin Herbert Over 265.5 Passing Yards
If you’ve watched the Chargers over the past few years, including the past few weeks, you’ve probably noticed that Herbert has looked “off” to an extent. He’s missed throws he usually hits with ease, and while he’s dealing with a non-throwing hand injury, he’s toughed it out through much worse in the past. The young star is simply in a funk, and there’s no better remedy to a passing slump than the Chicago Bears defense in prime time. We’re going to take advantage of Herbert’s recent shaky performances and buy low on a talent that in the long run, will definitely shine through.
The Chicago pass rush ranks dead last in adjusted sack rate and 29th in pressure, so Herbert should have an unusually-clean pocket, which could be a huge deal as he has been a completely different passer depending on whether or not he’s comfortable in the pocket this season. Overall, the Bears pass defense is 30th in DVOA and 29th in EPA, despite a success rate that ranks nearly average, so they’ve been giving up some big plays, something the strong-armed Herbert is definitely capable of.
Conversely, the Bears run defense has been surprisingly competent, ranking in the top half of the league by EPA, DVOA, and success rate, so the Chargers’ mediocre run game won’t be the way to go on offense. Herbert will have plenty of chances to throw the ball, and I expect him to make the most of them given the matchup.
Another thing Herbert has on his side is a top wide receiver in stellar form, veteran slot man Keenan Allen. The duo struggled to link up against the Chiefs, but they’ve victimized lesser secondaries like the Titans and Vikings for some truly crazy performances, and the Bears are definitely a candidate to be the recipients of a similar day from this pair.
Given the matchups we’ll discuss below, the Bears’ offense just might keep pace enough to keep this a tight game, so Herbert could very well be throwing well into the fourth quarter, giving this prop a great chance to hit.
D.J. Moore Over 4.5 Catches (-140)
In his starting debut, Tyson Bagent was relatively efficient as he completed 21 of his 29 pass attempts, but those tosses yielded just 162 yards. Yes, that was a blowout win so there was less reason to push the ball down the field, but we’re still going to assume that the Bears will err on the side of caution with their inexperienced, underprepared starter.
For that reason, we’re going to stick with Moore’s receptions prop rather than yardage. He’s one of the game’s best big-play threats, but without the physical upside of Justin Fields, we can’t rely on that aspect of his game to shine through. That being said, he was a huge part of the gameplan with Bagent at the helm; Moore was targeted on over 30% of all passes, and caught 8 balls in the win over Las Vegas.
The Chargers’ defense is 30th in opponent pass success rate, so there will be plenty of easy opportunities for Bagent and Moore to link up. The Bears will likely be either dealing with a deficit or at least playing a close game, so they should be throwing all night long, especially given the Chargers’ more adequate run defense.
If you can find an alternate line, feel free to move this number up to 5.5 to increase payout or even 6.5 if the price is right. As I write this piece on Friday, this number is the only one I have access to but it’s fairly juiced at -140 and Moore should clear it comfortably, so get the best value you can find. He should serve as a security blanket of sorts for Bagent, and will see plenty of targets on Sunday night.
Cameron Dicker Under 1.5 Field Goals Made (-130)
As is almost always the case, this is a situational play, more than a statement on Dicker’s ability as a kicker, especially after he led the league in field goal percentage last season. That being said, he didn’t do so on particularly high volume- 22 attempts in 11 games- and that trend has been amplified this season, as the Texas alum has hit just eight field goals in six games thus far.
This is due to a very solid Chargers red-zone attack. Herbert and company score on 63.64% of their trips inside the 20 yard line, a rate that ranks sixth in the league. They’re facing the second-worst red zone defense in the league this weekend, as the Bears allow touchdowns on an unsightly 76.19% of opponent red zone drives.
This game is going to trend towards being a shootout, and while it should be a really fun one, it’s hard to imagine too many Chargers drives stalling out. The math also shouldn’t line up so that they need a field goal; the Bears have a similar red zone advantage, although that might be diminished to a degree with the dynamic Fields sitting this one out.