Welcome to the Thursday Night Football betting breakdown, where I’ll provide a betting overview of the upcoming Thursday Night Football game utilizing moneyline, points spread and projected total odds from DraftKings Sportsbook, FanDuel Sportsbook and FOX Bet. Additionally, I’ll hone in on at least one player or game prop each week that I feel has profit potential at one of those three sportsbooks.
All betting takes will be classified as either a “lean” or a “pick”. A lean is a wager that we have a certain degree of certainty in. However, it’s one that still falls somewhere short of a high-confidence selection. A pick carries an additional degree of confidence based on a variety of factors. These include relevant injuries; past track record of each team in those bet types and under the specific conditions that apply; and recent performances of each team leading up to the game.
For more detailed information on this week’s matchup – including further game analysis, betting trends breakdown, betting tips specific to TNF, and a synopsis of the history of the line movement for the game, please see our Thursday Night Football Betting Preview over at TheLines.
The Bears are solid moneyline favorites at all three sportsbooks with good reason. To begin with, the team returns the majority of the pieces on both sides of the ball that led them to a stellar 12-4 record last season. Then, Chicago was unsurprisingly tough on their home field in 2018. Chicago boasted a 7-1 record at Soldier Field last regular season. Their one loss came at the hands of the eventual champion New England Patriots in Week 7 by a 38-31 score.
The Bears defense was elite wherever it lined up last season. However, it was at its best on its home field. Chicago allowed an NFC-low 17.3 points per home contest. Outside of the aforementioned loss to New England, Chicago allowed 22 points or fewer in their other seven home games. That included a particularly impressive showing against the eventual NFC champion Los Angeles Rams in which they held Jared Goff and company to six points. Their Soldier Field ledger also included a 24-17 defeat of the Packers in Week 15.
Meanwhile, the Packers were a markedly more porous defense when traveling last season. They yielded a robust 29.4 points per game across their eight road contests. That represents a considerable bump from the 20.6 they allowed at Lambeau Field. Green Bay was also an atrocious 1-7 in away games last season, tying them with the Buccaneers for the second-worst away record in the NFC. The Pack has enjoyed a fair amount of success at Soldier Field during the Aaron Rodgers era. However, facing much of the same Bears defense they’ll see Thursday — one that didn’t have Khalil Mack prior to last season — they fell by a 24-17 margin on Chicago’s home turf last December 16.
The two teams match up pretty closely in terms of healthy offensive weapons. Rodgers is still clearly ahead of Mitchell Trubisky, but the Bears signal caller is expected to make a big leap forward during his second season in coach Matt Nagy’s offense. The primetime, season-opening home crowd and the defense is what primarily separates the Bears here in my book. Despite the more appealing price on the Packers moneyline, I have to go Bears in this spot.
The Pick: Bears moneyline
The Bears opened as 3.5-point favorites at most sportsbooks earlier this summer. However, that number shrunk as preseason unfolded and now sits at the default three points typically afforded teams with home-field advantage.
Chicago did prove its mettle as a home favorite against the spread last season, however. The Monsters of the Midway were 6-1 (85.7 percent) versus the number at Soldier Field in 2018. That included their aforementioned seven-point win versus the Packers. All seven of their home victories were by five points or greater. And, Chicago was a lock against the spread in division contests, regardless of setting. The Bears were a perfect 6-0 against the number in NFC North battles.
The Packers were much less reliable as an away team in general, as already illustrated. That also applies to their performance versus the number as away underdogs. Green Bay sported an unsightly 1-4-1 (20.0 percent) mark against the spread under those conditions. It was the same story in NFC North matchups, home or away. The Pack’s mark versus the number in division games was 1-5 (16.7 percent). And of Green Bay’s seven road losses, five were by seven points or greater.
With the Bears proving so effective against the spread at both home and in division games last season and at full health, I’m leaning strongly toward a Bears cover.
The Lean: Bears -3
The 46.5-point projected total places this game about middle of the pack in that category on the Week 1 ledger. The recent history of this series, the Bears defense in particular, and the track record of both clubs last season all lean me toward a certain direction this week. Two of the last three meetings between the teams have fallen below the 46.5-point total. A third, last season’s 24-23 season-opening thriller, went just over at 47 points. However, that required a miracle 75-yard Aaron Rodgers-Randall Cobb connection with 2:13 remaining to get over the hump. Of the Bears’ eight home games last season, five finished under the Week 1 projected total.
What’s more, the Under was 5-4 (55.6 percent) in Chicago’s Soldier Field tilts last season, including 4-3 (57.1 percent) in their games as home favorites. Then, in addition to the impressive numbers associated with the Bears defense that were already cited, there’s two more that lend credence to the notion of the Under hitting — Chicago finished tops in the NFL in both yards per drive (26.0) and points per drive (1.4) allowed in 2018.
The Packers did score a respectable 23.2 points per away game last season. However, Green Bay averaged a more modest 20.5 points against the Bears in their two encounters. The Pack also trended toward the lower end of their projected road totals last season. The Under was 4-4 (50.0 percent) in Green Bay’s away contests, including 4-2 (66.7 percent) in the Packers’ games as road underdogs.
Finally, it’s also worth mentioning neither squad consistently hit the Over in their division games, contests in which each team’s familiarity with the other tends to sometimes frustrate offense. Both the Bears and Packers were 3-3 in terms of exceeding their projected totals in their NFC North matchups.
The Pick: Under 46.5
Best Prop Bet
Mitchell Trubisky: Player to Score and Team to Win (+500 at DraftKings Sportsbook)
As mentioned earlier, I lean toward the Bears’ moneyline in this game. Taking that into account, this Trubisky prop particularly stands out at a price of +500. The Bears’ third-year quarterback scored 27 total touchdowns (24 passing, three rushing) over 14 games last season. To put those numbers in proper context, one has to factor in that Trubisky was not only in just his second year as an NFL starter after only filling that role for one college season. And, he was also learning coach Matt Nagy’s offense on the fly.
Things seemed to start clicking for Trubisky in the system after the first three games. Beginning with a 354-yard performance, six-touchdown performance in Week 4 against the Buccaneers, Trubisky scored at least one touchdown in 10 of the last 11 regular-season games he suited up for. He also notched three total touchdowns against the Packers. Then, Green Bay allowed an average of 2.2 passing touchdowns per road contest last season, tying them with the Texans and Falcons for the fourth-highest figure in that category.
Finally, Trubisky’s ability to make plays with his legs can’t be underscored. He averaged at least 6.0 yards per rush and scored a total of five rushing touchdowns over his first two NFL seasons. That provides him with yet another viable path to cashing this prop.