Welcome to the Monday Night Football betting breakdown, where I’ll provide a betting overview of the upcoming MNF game utilizing moneyline, points spread, and projected total odds from DraftKings Sportsbook and FanDuel Sportsbook. 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 determined degree of certainty. 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, the past track records for certain conditions and bet types, and team performances 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 MNF, and a synopsis of the history of the line movement for the game, please see our Monday Night Football Betting Preview over at TheLines.
Bears at Redskins, Monday, Sept. 23, 8:15 p.m. ET
The Bears have steadily maintained a healthy moneyline advantage since the game was first posted. Despite their offensive issues thus far, the oddsmakers and public clearly has plenty of faith in their defensive prowess and the Redskins’ overall inferior talent.
Chicago was able to squeeze out a highly improbable two-point win at Denver in Week 2 with a bit of help from the refs on their final drive. Denver’s Bradley Chubb was called for a highly touchy roughing penalty because he appeared to put his full body weight on Mitchell Trubisky after a takedown. That was pivotal to the Bears eventually getting into field-goal range for Eddy Pineiro‘s game-winning kick. Chicago’s offense underachieved considerably once again. Yet they did face their second tough challenge in as many games to open the campaign. The Denver defense is a formidable one. That’s especially true in the thin air of their home field.
The Bears defense is the difference-maker. Chicago’s unit is elite and can make an opposing quarterback’s life miserable. Khalil Mack and company already have seven sacks through the first pair of contests. Washington’s offense, and Case Keenum specifically, have been better than anticipated overall in the first two weeks. But the Bears’ defense is on a different level than the solid Eagles and Cowboys units the Skins drew in their first two games.
Another factor working against the home team here is the high probability of being one-dimensional. The backfield is currently led by 34-year-old Adrian Peterson following Derrius Guice‘s latest knee problem. There’s no other viable candidate for heavy early-down work, either. Chris Thompson and Wendell Smallwood can certainly take occasional carries and produce. However, each’s strongest point is their pass-catching ability.
The Redskins haven’t been able to play a full four quarters on both sides of the ball yet. They also have injury concerns at right cornerback as well. The Bears will eventually overwhelm the Redskins’ short-handed offense and forge what could well be another ugly win.
The Bears’ projected 4.0-point advantage has also held steady throughout this game’s life span at sportsbooks thus far.The home team is afforded a courtesy three-point advantage in the mind of oddsmakers. Therefore, the current number implies Chicago is about a touchdown better than Washington. This number would be even higher had the Bears already made even half the offensive strides many had expected from them coming into the season.
The Bears were an excellent team against the spread in 2018. Chicago was 12-4 overall versus the number. That was good for an NFL-high 75.0 percent success rate. That tally included a 5-3 mark (62.5 percent) versus the number in their away games and a 3-3 record ATS as away favorites specifically. The Bears were 10-3 (76.9 percent) versus the number in conference games as well. Chicago is winless against the number through two weeks this season but has failed to cover by a modest average of 5.8 points in two tough matchups.
The Redskins were a respectable 9-7 ATS last season and 4-2 as a home underdog specifically. Yet this number isn’t an insurmountable one by any stretch for Chicago. That holds true even given their offensive sluggishness thus far. With the possibility of a defensive touchdown from their opportunistic defense always in play as well (NFL-high 27 interceptions in 2018 along with a +12 turnover differential), I’m going with a Bears cover.
The Lean: Bears -4 (FanDuel Sportsbook)
The total for this game has unsurprisingly remained mired in the very low 40s since the open. Given everything already cited about the underachieving Bears offense and the stalwart Bears defense, that’s not necessarily surprising. The Redskins have admittedly been a very giving defensive unit thus far this season. However, they’re a veteran group that is likely capable of playing better than it’s shown so far. And Chicago’s offense appears nowhere near calibrated enough at this point to take full advantage of any weaknesses.
The numbers aren’t pretty for Trubisky and company. The Bears’ 263.5 yards per game of total offense sees them check in 30th out of 32 teams after two weeks. That includes a No. 28 ranking in passing yards per game (160.0) and a better-but-still-pedestrian 19th in rushing yards per contest (99.5).
The Redskins have been a bit more efficient, especially through the air. Yet they are shaping up as an increasingly one-dimensional attack that makes them easier to defend. That’s led to Washington being ranked 25th in total offense (326.5 yards per game). They do slot in 10th in passing offense (289.0 yards per game). But the absence of tackle Trent Williams (contract dispute) has helped lead to a No. 30 rank in rushing offense (37.5 yards per game).
Then, the Bears are ranked 4th in total defense with just 292.5 total yards allowed per game, including 68.5 rushing yards per contest (sixth lowest). That should help them keep their sights firmly on Keenum and his rather ordinary group of pass catchers that will likely be missing Jordan Reed (concussion) yet again. As such, I see the two clubs struggling to get over the 41.5-point threshold.
The Pick: Under 41.5 (FanDuel Sportsbook)
Best Prop Bet
First Scoring Play: Away Team Field Goal (+295 at DraftKings Sportsbook)
Given the belief the Bears defense will largely control the flow of this game and that their teammates on the other side of the ball will be less than efficient more often than not, I like this prop. The Bears have already turned to Pineiro for four field-goal attempts this season and have all of one offensive touchdown through 22 drives and 55:58 in total time of possession. That’s an atrocious ratio. While I expect the Chicago offense to hit more of a stride later into this game (which would dovetail with the Redskins’ questionable second-half defensive performance in each of the first two games), I can certainly see a slow start and a Pineiro field goal to open the scoring on the night.