Panthers vs. Bears – NFL Pick for October 20th
Another week of NFL action is upon us, as things already got started with an insane Thursday Night Football meeting between the Kansas City Chiefs and Oakland Raiders.
That was one of the best games we’ve seen all season and it also had one of the most exhausting endings. Derek Carr led the Raiders to a 31-30 win to save Oakland’s season in the waning moments but literally had to score three times (thanks to reviews and penalties) before actually getting an official score.
It was a wild ride, and it’s worth wondering if it’s only setting us up for a crazy Sunday slate. Even if that’s the case, we may look to keep things on the safe side.
That didn’t work out completely last week, as our Packers pick was killed by an Aaron Rodgers injury. We did nail the Total for the Saints vs. Lions matchup, however, so the week wasn’t a total loss.
As far as safety goes, the Carolina Panthers feel like one of the better locks for week seven. They do have to go on the road to battle the Bears, while Chicago certainly has shown more signs of life lately with rookie franchise passer Mitchell Trubisky under center.
Does that mean the underdog Bears (+150 at Bovada) are worth getting behind or are the Panthers the safe bet they appear to be?
Chicago makes sense as the underdog, but we should start out by warning bettors not to completely write them off.
Outside of two blowout losses, this team has been very competitive all year. They took the Falcons to the wire, actually beat the Steelers and took down the Ravens in overtime last week.
Chicago has a new offensive life with Trubisky under center, while Jordan Howard leads the NFL’s third-best rushing offense. Defensively, the Bears are a middle of the pack unit against the run, but rank 8th against the pass and are tied for 7th in sacks.
When things are going right, the Bears can move the ball and control the tempo of games, which at the very least can often give them a chance to win games. I don’t like them to get away with a win here, but their style of play does make them viable picks against the spread.
The Bears still aren’t a reliable play there, but that gets me off of taking Carolina to cover. Ultimately, I’m ready to take the value we get with the Panthers at -170 and run with it.
Cam Newton was really the only thing that worked for this team last week, yet he still also came away with a win over what looks like a very good Eagles team. Newton has been the key force behind Carolina’s recent success, while the Panthers have been among the more balanced teams on the year.
The one thing that could hold the Panthers back is the absence of star inside linebacker, Luke Kuechly. After suffering a concussion against Philadelphia, he will officially sit this game out:
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) October 20, 2017
That is bad news for Carolina’s defense, but this is still a talented unit that can get after the quarterback (2nd in sacks) and boasts a balanced group, overall. Carolina does have some work to do to keep opposing passing offenses under wraps, but their strengths are their pass rush and their run defense (5th in the NFL).
When you look at upsets, you look for the easiest wrinkles. Chicago has a passable defense and can run the football, so in theory, they can keep this game close at home. However, their greatest strength collides with Carolina’s best asset defensively and the Panthers are the team that has Cam Newton.
Ultimately, I’ll take Carolina’s defense over Jordan Howard and Cam Newton over Mitchell Trubisky. That has us liking the Panthers to get the win this week.