Thursday Night Football Betting: Is There Any Reason to Back the Offenses?
This could be an ugly game.
Two of the league's worst teams take the field tonight. Our nERD-based rankings have the Washington Commanders rated 24th and the Chicago Bears ranked 28th. Yuck. And there probably won't be a ton of offense, as the over/under is set at only 37.5 points.
Let's see if we can unlock some interesting betting angles to spice this puppy up.
Game Preview and Key Matchups
Quarterback play is not the strong suit of this contest. Neither signal-caller has been at their best so far this season. Carson Wentz appears to still be getting acclimated to his new digs and is also nursing a biceps injury, while Justin Fields is still struggling as a passer.
In terms of Passing Net Expected Points (NEP) per drop back, 32 passers this season have tossed the pigskin 75 times or more. Wentz clocks in 24th in Passing NEP per drop back with a mark of -0.01 NEP, and Fields ranks 3rd-worst with a clip of -0.13. You did indeed read that correctly -- both teams are losing expected points every time they drop back to pass. Chicago ranks as the 2nd-worst passing offense in football, whereas the Commanders rank 21st.
Interestingly, the Bears feature a very efficient runner in this contest -- by the name of Khalil Herbert. The problem is that David Montgomery has returned after an injury and has taken lead-back duties away from Herbert. Herbert ranks as the league's fifth-most efficient runner in terms of Rushing NEP per carry (0.20), but Montgomery clocks in 10th-worst with a mark of -0.09.
Defensively, both teams are blah, as well. Washington comes in 20th overall by our numbers but does boast the 2nd-best run defense in the league. Chicago is about as average as it gets -- 23rd overall, 21st against the pass and 20th against the run.
Bets to Consider
The Commanders are slight 1.0-point favorites. Our model also thinks this will be a tight contest, but our projections give a narrow edge to the Bears, projecting them to win 21.7-21.3.
We have a stronger lean on the over. We project a total of 43.0 points to be scored, and we think the over cashes 66% of the time.
Comparing player prop lines to our projections, one bet I love -- and our numbers do, too -- is the over on Montgomery's rushing yards at a line of 60.5 yards (-110).
This Washington defense rates out well against the run, but they have given up big rushing totals in some games. Derrick Henry surpassed the century mark in rushing yards versus Washington last week. In Week 1, James Robinson and Travis Etienne combined for 113 rushing yards on 15 carries. In Week 2, D'Andre Swift and Jamaal Williams had a similar output, teaming up for 109 yards on 17 carries.
We know Chicago wants to run the ball, and we can expect Montgomery to see a heavy workload. He got 16 touches a week ago in his return from injury. We project him to rack up 68.0 rushing yards.
Historic Betting Trends
-- The under is 16-5 in the last 21 Thursday night games.
-- Washington has won seven of its past eight meetings with Chicago.
-- The Bears are 1-7 against the spread in their last eight primetime contests.