There are a number of games this week the NFL could have scheduled for Thursday night. Browns vs Ravens, Saints vs Vikings and 49ers vs Jaguars are decent games. But NFL fans will be relegated to watching two of the worst teams in the league Thursday night when Carolina visits Chicago. In fairness, the matchup looked a lot better in the offseason. It was going to feature two of the young stars at quarterback. But things haven’t played out that way. Justin Fields has missed the last two national football games with a thumb injury and is uncertain for Thursday. Bryce Young is going through some rookie growing pains, and both NFL teams are struggling. The Panthers vs Bears matchup odds have Chicago -3 (-125), and the total is 38.5.
Day/Time: Thursday, November 9, 8:15 p.m. ET
Location: Soldier Field, Chicago, Illinois
Streaming: Prime Video
Line: Chicago -3 (-125) | Total: 38.5
Carolina Offense Struggling to Move Ball
Most NFL teams expect to have some problems when starting a rookie quarterback. That’s certainly been the case with Young. The Panthers are No. 31 in yards per play, No. 24 in rushing yards per game, and No. 27 in passing yards per game. But Carolina is still scoring 17.5 points per game. That’s not bad, considering how weak the offense has been moving the ball.
There’s plenty of room for improvement for the Panthers offensively. Young has thrown for 1,375 yards and eight touchdowns against seven interceptions. But Carolina is last in the league in yards per pass attempt; one reason why the team is 1-7 straight-up and 1-6-1 against the NFL betting odds. Young will be a good player one day, perhaps even one of the favorites in the NFL MVP odds. But he’s not close to being there yet and needs help from his teammates.
The defense hasn’t helped matters any, allowing 28.3 points per game. But part of that likely has to do with the offense’s ineptness. Carolina is allowing just 310 total yards per game against teams that average 359.4 yards. The Panthers allow one point for every 11 yards allowed, which ranks last in the NFL.
Chicago Keeps Shooting Itself in the Foot
The Chicago Bears‘ yardage stats aren’t pretty. But they’re also not those of a 2-7 team. What is the sign of a poor team is Chicago’s turnover margin of -9. You’re going to struggle if you can’t hang onto the football. That’s taught in Pee Wee football. But the Bears haven’t gotten the message just yet.
While the offense has to share the brunt of the responsibility, the defense has to shoulder some of the blame. The Bears have been intercepted 12 times, while the defense has just six interceptions. Chicago has lost six fumbles, and the defense has recovered three. The defense needs to do better, forcing turnovers.
The Bears run the ball, gaining 4.6 yards per rush. But part of that is Fields, who is third on the team in rushing. The passing game is a bit subpar, although Chicago scores 20.9 points per game.
On defense, the Bears allow 26.9 points and can stop the run. But Chicago has struggled defending the pass, allowing 256.9 yards per game.
What to Expect
The Panthers throw 39 times per game and average 24.5 rushing attempts. There’s nothing that should change that in this game. If anything, expect the Panthers to throw a few more times and not test Chicago’s rushing defense, which is allowing 3.3 yards per run. The Bears’ secondary could be just what Young needs to get some confidence.
The Bears have pretty close to a 50-50 mix of running and passing. The Panthers don’t excel at defending the run or the pass. But Carolina looks to be a little better against the pass, primarily because they’re easy to run against. After throwing three interceptions against New Orleans, the Bears could make more of an effort to run the ball. That’s especially true if Fields is going to miss his third straight game. The Panthers vs Bears matchup odds on the total are factoring in some running plays. You have two defenses that combine to allow 55.2 points per game. Yet the total is just 38.5.
Who to Bet On?
These are two of the worst point spread teams in football over the past few NFL seasons. The Panthers have gone 15-26 ATS since the start of the 2021 season. The Bears are 14-27 against the number. Yet this your only option to bet on NFL game Thursday night.
The Panthers vs Bears matchup odds are pretty solid, with the Chicago Bears being 3-point favorites at -125 odds. You could make a case for either team, which is what the sportsbook wants. There isn’t a whole lot of value either way in this game, but the best bet looks to be the under 40.