The New England Patriots (-7.5, 40) host the Chicago Bears at Gillette Stadium on Monday night to conclude Week 7 of the NFL season (ESPN, 8:15 ET).
We have one more chance to wager on professional football after an exciting Sunday of action. So, which plays do our analysts prefer? Top plays are provided by betting analyst Joe Fortenbaugh, ESPN analyst Seth Walder, fantasy and sports betting analysts André Snellings and Eric Moody, and Football Outsiders’ Aaron Schatz.
Lines are from OKBET Sportsbook unless otherwise stated.
What are your thoughts on the spread and total for this game, with Mac Jones returning for the Patriots? Who are you going with?
Fortenbaugh: A one-dimensional offense (which Chicago is, thanks to a dreadful passing attack) is a recipe for disaster against a Bill Belichick-coached team because he is a master at forcing the opposition to play left-handed. So you have to ask yourself, “Do I trust Justin Fields, who has a QB rating of 72.7 and ranks 32nd in the NFL, to go out and win me this bet?” My answer to that question is emphatically “No.” On Monday night, I hooked a few 6-point teasers on New England and would also lay a half unit on the Patriots at -7.5, not to mention an underbet.
Snellings: If Jones returns, I’ll take the under. Jones led the Patriots to 15.7 points per game in three games before being injured, and they combined with their opponents to go under this line in two of those three games. Similarly, Fields has led the Bears to an average of 15.5 points per game, with the team going under the total in four of six games. These two teams are better on defense than offense and have struggled to score.
Schatz: The Bears are just a bad team right now, ranking 31st in DVOA and 30th in ESPN’s FPI. The Patriots have been playing very well in recent weeks. Yes, they’re returning to Jones from Bailey Zappe, but a larger sample of Jones’ career (21 total games, as opposed to just the three games earlier this year) suggests that Jones is the better quarterback. I believe Belichick can build a Patriots defense that completely shuts down Fields and the entire Bears offense. Meanwhile, the Patriots will run all over a Bears defense that ranks 27th in run defense DVOA. Patriots all the way.
Walder: FPI has very little faith in Chicago, which it ranks as the NFL’s third-worst team, trailing only the Panthers and the Brett Rypien-led Broncos. Fields is plagued by sacks. I believe they are mostly focused on him, but that is really irrelevant when it comes to forecasting this game. The Patriots defense is legit, ranking fifth in efficiency this season. When everything is considered, the model believes New England should be 9.9 point favorites. I’m going with the Patriots.
Rhamondre Stevenson has rushed for over 200 yards in each of the last two games. The Bears have one of the best pass defenses in the NFL, but one of the worst against the run. What are your thoughts on Stevenson finishing with the most rushing yards this season (30-1) and his props for Monday night?
Snellings: With Damien Harris returning to full practice on Thursday, I expect Stevenson to rush for 60-70 yards and catch for 20 yards, as opposed to the 266 total yards he produced over the last two weeks with Harris out. In other words, Stevenson could still have a good game in a timeshare with Harris, especially through the air, and I think he’ll score a touchdown.
Fortenbaugh: I like Stevenson, but the return of Harris makes this a pass for me. He simply will not record enough touches.
Schatz: I agree with Fortenbaugh here. Bill Belichick loves his RB committees far too much for Stevenson to lead the league in yardage this season. The unknown of how much Harris will play deters me from betting on Stevenson’s Monday night props.
The Bears have only thrown the ball 35% of the time, with 141 attempts on 402 plays – the lowest in the league. However, Fields’ rushing yards prop has gone over in five of his last six away games. It’s 43.5 degrees Fahrenheit on Monday night. What are your thoughts on Chicago’s player props? Would you take any of them for Monday night?
Fortenbaugh: I’d look for unders, especially with Chicago’s rushing attack. I believe Belichick will stack the box and dare Fields to beat New England with his arm, something the second-year quarterback has been unable to do in his brief NFL career.
Snellings: I’d take Fields over 43.5 rushing yards. He’s surpassed that mark in each of the last four games, averaging 58.5 yards per game. I can see Belichick daring Fields to throw and attempting to limit the run, but Fields is powerful enough with his legs that I expect him to do some damage.
Schatz: I’ll take the over on Fields’ rushing yards because the Patriots have historically struggled with scrambling quarterbacks, in part because they use a lot of man coverage. I agree that the Patriots will try to stack the box and force Fields to throw, but he’ll get out of the pocket for a couple of big runs against this defense.
Walder: I’ll come over for the same reason. This season, the Patriots have used man coverage 56% of the time, ranking fifth in the NFL. This generally results in more scrambling opportunities for opposing quarterbacks. The Bears should try to get Fields to use his legs as much as possible.
What is your best bet for Monday night’s game?
Fortenbaugh: I like the Bears to score less than 15.5 total points (+100). This Chicago offense is in for a long night.
Walder: Darnell Mooney for more than 3.5 receptions (+100). I’m a little concerned about this one because my model, which predicts 4.3 receptions for Mooney on Monday, has a hard time forecasting pass rates as low as what the Bears are putting up because they are such outliers. Still, Mooney is coming off a 12-target, seven-reception game, which I believe carries some weight. Furthermore, the Bears will be behind and will be forced to pass, even if they do not want to. Mooney is the obvious target.
Moody: Mooney has gained more than 50 yards in three consecutive games. He has 22 targets in that time frame. Despite facing Bill Belichick and the Patriots, Mooney is Chicago’s best-receiving playmaker. He is talented enough to win against the Patriots cornerbacks. Mooney should have more than enough targets to go over 45.5 yards.