NFL

NFL Betting: Mitchell Trubisky to Beat Out Nick Foles as Chicago’s Week 1 Starter

When the Chicago Bears travel to Detroit to face the Lions on September 13th, someone will jog out with the offense as the starting quarterback. The question, of course, is whether that quarterback will be incumbent Mitchell Trubisky or newcomer Nick Foles, who Chicago traded for this offseason.

Over at FanDuel Sportsbook, you can bet on which one of those two quarterbacks will be Chicago's starting quarterback in Week 1. Foles is the favorite at -300, while Trubisky is listed at +195.

At stake in this quarterback competition is the Bears' long-term future at the position, after Chicago traded up to the second overall pick to draft Trubisky just three years ago. Foles has been in the league five more years than Trubisky, and at 31 years old, is unlikely to have the same longevity at the position that Trubisky would offer.

Still, it's not about the future for head coach Matt Nagy, who will face a lot of heat if he can't get his quarterback to help improve an offense that was 30th in Adjusted Passing Net Expected Points (NEP) per play last year.

Let's take a look at what both quarterbacks bring to the table for Chicago.

Nick Foles (-300)

There is a certain mystique that has followed Foles since he came off the bench to lead the Philadelphia Eagles to a Super Bowl victory in 2017. The former Super Bowl MVP was able to parlay that performance into a deal with the Jacksonville Jaguars prior to last season.

However, after getting injured in the fourth game of the season, Foles lost out on his starting job due, in large part, to the play of Gardner Minshew.

Foles will be trying to rediscover his Super Bowl-winning magic in Chicago, but he isn't the type of quarterback who can instantly fix an offense.

The 31-year-old didn't win any of his starts in Jacksonville last year and hasn't started more than 11 games at any point in his career. The last time he even started eight games in a season was 2015 when he was with the Rams, but he was benched that season due to poor play.

In the four seasons since, Foles has been pretty good in limited appearances, with just 13 regular-season starts and 19 total appearances during that span. In those games combined, Foles has completed 66.5 percent of his passes and tossed 18 touchdowns to 8 interceptions. If you include his five playoff starts in that span, the numbers improve slightly to 66.8 percent passing with 27 touchdowns and 13 interceptions.

However, Foles has had a below-average Passing NEP per drop back in six of his eight seasons in his career. Those two came in his second year in the league in 2013 and in 2018 when he played extremely well late in the season in place of Carson Wentz, ultimately leading the Eagles back into the playoffs.

The question surrounding Foles is whether or not he can be the quarterback he was in Philly when he had a pretty ideal situation. In 2017, he took over an 11-win team that was likely already good enough to make the Super Bowl had Wentz not gotten hurt. The challenge was harder in 2018 with a team fighting for their playoff lives, but they still had many of the same pieces from the team that won the Super Bowl the previous season.

Foles didn't have those juggernaut clubs with the Rams in 2015 or the Jaguars last season, and as a result, couldn't duplicate the success.

Mitchell Trubisky (+195)

While most of the criticism of Trubisky is warranted, he did lead three fourth-quarter comebacks last year, which matched the number he orchestrated in his first two seasons combined.

One big dropoff from 2018 was his touchdown passes, which fell from 24 to 17. Trubisky threw for roughly the same amount of yards both years, and actually threw 2 fewer interceptions last year. His completion percentage also dipped from 66.6 to 63.2 percent, but that still put him squarely in the middle of starting quarterbacks last season, despite having twice as many passes dropped as the previous year.

The larger issue is how effective Trubisky was in leading the offense, and in that area, he clearly took a major step back in his third year. His Passing NEP per dropback fell from 0.16 (12th) in 2018 to just 0.01 (33rd) last season, with roughly 100 more dropbacks.

Trubisky had 15 fewer rushes in 2019, and his Rushing NEP per carry dropped from 0.61 in 2018 (second among quarterbacks with at least 20 rushes) to 0.11 in 2019 (20th). Simply put, Trubisky just didn't make the plays he was able to make in 2018, and that hurt his team significantly.

However, the upside Trubisky showed in 2018 was enough to leave hope that he can perhaps rediscover that form while competing for his job with Foles. After all, he did help lead the Bears to 12 wins and an NFC North title that year.

Trubisky hasn't been in the league nearly as long as Foles, so there is far more scrutiny on these last two seasons -- that can make trying to project the trajectory on his career tougher. His one big advantage over Foles is his experience within Nagy's offense and rapport with Chicago's receivers. In an offseason without much official on-field practice time, that familiarity looms larger than it would in any other offseason.

However, Trubisky still needs to prove on the field that he is capable of playing like the quarterback we saw in 2018 and the one we saw in 2019.

The Pick

All of Nagy's public comments about the quarterback competition have been to say that both players will have an equal chance at the job. However, it's hard to believe that this isn't Trubisky's job to lose once training camp actually opens up.

Sure, Foles will have a fair shot to win the job, but it feels like he needs to outperform Trubisky in a big way in order to win the job for Week 1.

Whether they care to admit it or not, Chicago has invested too much in Trubisky to not give him every opportunity to be their quarterback of the future. As a result, I would bet Trubisky to be the Bears' Week 1 starter at +195.

That's not to say that Trubisky will be the starter by the end of October. It will be far easier for the Bears to transition from Trubisky to Foles midseason because Foles will have had a chance to get more acquainted with the offense.