Another weekend of NFL is in the books, and I’m sure many bettors are still trying to process the results.
However, the unimaginable upsets are becoming somewhat predictable, as this week’s installment featured P.J Walker’s Panthers dominating Tom Brady‘s Buccaneers. Carolina cashed in as a no-sweat +500 money line winner in a 21-3 victory over Tampa Bay. And how can we forget about Taylor Heinicke leading the Commanders past the Packers? Entering the season, when we talked about Aaron Rodgers always being mentioned alongside Tom Brady, losing in back-to-back weeks as a significant favorite certainly isn’t what anyone had in mind.
As we wrap up Week 7 tonight, the season is clearly starting to take shape. The perplexing challenge is that it looks nothing like we expected.
Can the Chicago Bears finish off the week as another big underdog winner on “Monday Night Football?” Their moneyline odds are currently +300 at BetMGM. As much as I like a live dog, I am not buying that Belichick will allow a letdown. I played the Patriots at this time last week, and I would still play it up to the current number. If this weekend’s results make you cautious about laying a big number, here are two additional bets I fired on at BetMGM.
First half total – Under 20 (-115)
Chicago’s offense woes are well-documented. Justin Fields is PFF’s 33rd-rater passer, and his highest-rated wideout grades out at 61st in the NFL. The Bears average a meager 15.5 points per game (31st in the NFL), with only 6.5 coming in the first half. As crazy as it sounds, Chicago’s first-half team total set at 7.5 points is completely warranted. Especially when you factor in that New England’s defense has been coming into its own. Over the past two weeks, the Patriots defense ranks No.1 in EPA per dropback allowed and second against the run. It helps to play Detroit and Cleveland, but both teams are statistically superior to Chicago. Bill Belichick has a history of throwing the kitchen sink at young quarterbacks, and I am willing to bet Fields struggles early.
If we can count on a touchdown or less from Chicago, then we want to be comfortable that New England will land in that 10-13 point range. The Patriots averaged 9.8 points in the first half this season, dropping that number to 7.6 in the three games started by Mac Jones. The Patriots only surpassed 13 first-half points once, and did so by only a field goal versus Detroit. In Mac Jones’ first game back from injury, it’s fair to expect New England to lean on the run game early while the second-year quarterback knocks the rust off. Under 20 first-half points is a solid bet for me.
Tyquan Thornton – Anytime Touchdown +310
Thornton recently returned from a collarbone injury that forced him to miss the first four weeks. He may have only had four receptions against the Browns, but he found the end zone in only his second game back. The Patriots rookie had an impressive preseason before the injury, showcasing his ability to beat press coverage, particularly in the red zone. He already has established rapport with the returning Jones and should be a welcomed asset for an offense currently ranking 29th in red-zone conversion rate. We are getting a generous price at +310 odds, considering the implied probability equates to 24.39%. I will take my chances that Mac Jones looks his way after the running game grinds its way inside the 20. Let’s grab the value with Thornton for an anytime touchdown.
Stats provided by rbsdm, teamrankings, and pff.com