Chicago Bears (4-1) at Carolina Panthers (3-2)
The Bears have started the season 4-1, but they aren’t nearly as good as their record, as they could have easily lost any of their four wins, with all coming down to the final play and the Bears managing to win all 4 by a combined 13 points. The general public seems to recognize the Bears aren’t as good as their record though. What they may not realize is that the Bears’ opponents this week, the Carolina Panthers, are also not as good as their 3-2 record suggests. This line favors the Panthers at home by 1.5 with limited homefield advantage, suggesting these two teams are about even, but the Bears hold an edge in both first down rate differential (+0.94% vs. -1.18%) and a clearer edge in my roster rankings.
The Panthers haven’t been terrible on either side of the ball this season, but their talent level on defense, especially without injured defensive tackle Kawaan Short, suggests they’ve overachieved on that side of the ball so far and could regress going forward. Overall, I have the Bears 3.5 points better than the Panthers, suggesting this line should be 1.5 the other way, giving the Panthers two points for having limited fan attendance. Games decided by 1 point aren’t overly common (4.1% of games), so we’re not getting great line value with the Bears, but I at least think the money line is worth betting at +105, as the Bears are slightly better than 50/50 to win this game straight up.
Chicago Bears 23 Carolina Panthers 20 Upset Pick +105
Pick against the spread: Chicago +1.5