New England Patriots (4-2) at Chicago Bears (3-2)
The Bears had a disappointing first game back from the bye last week, losing in overtime as 7-point favorites in Miami. Normally teams tend to do well out of the bye as big road favorites, but the Bears were in a tough spot where they didn’t find out they were facing backup quarterback Brock Osweiler until the morning of the game, while the Dolphins likely spent the whole weekend preparing for Osweiler to start, after regular starter Ryan Tannehill re-aggravated his shoulder injury in Friday’s practice. The Bears also might have been caught looking forward to this big game at home against New England as well.
Despite that loss, the Bears are still one of the better teams in the league, so we’re getting some line value with them as 3-point home underdogs against the Patriots. I didn’t expect to bet the Patriots as often as I have early in the season, but we started getting good value with them after they surprisingly lost back-to-back games on the road in week 2 and week 3. Now after 3 straight wins, we’re no longer getting good value with them and instead it is the Bears who are a little underrated.
That being said, we’re not getting quite enough line value to bet the Bears this week, as this line dropped from 3.5 early in the week down to 3, a significant line movement considering about 1 in 6 games are decided by exactly a field goal. Since their slow start, the Patriots have gotten top pass rusher Trey Flowers and valuable safety Patrick Chung back from injury on defense, wide receiver Julian Edelman has returned on offense, fellow wide receiver Josh Gordon was acquired from Cleveland and played close to every snap last season, and first round rookie Sony Michel has broken out as the lead running back. They could easily be a dominant team the rest of the way, so it’s not advisable to bet against them unless you’re getting great line value.
The Patriots are also in a good spot with only a trip to Buffalo on deck, one of their easier games of the season. Teams understandably tend to be completely focused and take care of business before easy games like that, as teams are 45-29 ATS since 2002 before being road favorites of 7+. The Bears should be completely focused too and are the pick for pick ‘em purposes, but I’d need at least 3.5 to put any money on them. This could easily be a push.
Update: Rob Gronkowski injured his back at practice on Friday and did not make the trip with the team. It’s an obvious downgrade for the Patriots, but the line dropped from 3 down to 2, which means the Bears basically have to win straight up to cover, so I’m keeping this as a low confidence pick.
Final Update: As I think about this more, I’m dropping this to a no confidence pick at +2. Brady has been close to automatic as underdogs or favorites or less than 3 in his career, going 49-22 ATS, and I don’t feel like going against that with any confidence. New England could easily win this game by a field goal, especially with Khalil Mack seemingly at less than 100% with an ankle injury.
New England Patriots 24 Chicago Bears 23
Pick against the spread: Chicago +2